Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (right) welcomes incoming YNP Superintendent Cam Sholly while a stuffed Yogi doesn’t appear too happy about it.

Outgoing YNP superintendent in Big Sky

“The least studied species in Yellowstone National Park is the human,” quipped Dan Wenk, as he delivered a stream of provocative insights to those gathered for the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Black Diamond Awards on June 26. Wenk was the keynote speaker, and as he involuntarily retreats from the superintendent’s desk, there’s clearly still a lot he wants to discuss. 

     Like the dearth of data about us humanoids. Upcoming surveys taken at different times of the year are planned so park managers can get a better handle on the crowds and their impacts. 

     Grizzy bears are also on Wenk’s mind. His prediction: “There’s probably going to be a fight that plays out over the next few months. 

Right now, the disagreement centers around hunting, said Wenk, with Wyoming contemplating a 22-grizzly kill quota and Idaho planning a hunt for just one grizzly. Lawsuits continue to challenge the delisting and proposed hunts, something Montana so far has resisted.  

     Wenk marveled at how a survey of wildlife viewers inside Yellowstone showed 61 percent claimed to have seen a bear. Cameron Sholly, the park service veteran appointed to replace Wenk, certainly has seen a few.  

     “Cam has great experience and an understanding of what will make Yellowstone National Park a family destination for all Montanans and its visitors,” said Sen. Steve Daines in a released statement. “We discussed many critical issues facing the park service and I look forward to working with Cam. As a Gardner High School graduate, I know he will bring Montana common sense to the job every day.” 

     At the Black Diamond Awards, Wenk told the Big Sky crowd this about Sholly: “I think he has an affinity for your community. The person who’s going to follow me has a lot knowledge of this community.”

     Wenk has been making headlines lately following his unceremonious ouster. Democratic representatives on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee are now asking the Trump Administration about Wenk’s reassignment and other apparently forced resignations of dozens of senior officials in the Interior Department.

     Montana’s Ryan Zinke runs Interior, making him the boss of all national parks. When he booted Superintendent Wenk, House Democrats hollered the move was part of a political purge. They accuse Interior Sec. Zinke of exacting “political retribution” for any work on climate change, energy or conservation, according to the Associated Press. Zinke defends the personnel moves, saying they are being done in the name of “greater efficiency.” —DM

 

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