Yellowstone National Park superintendent Dan Wenk says he was forced out of his position by President Donald Trump’s administration because of his wildlife advocacy, The Guardian reported. Former National Park Service director Jon Jarvis told the publication the move was meant to make Wenk into an example to weaken a culture of conservation. Wenk said, “It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the park service and places like Yellowstone, but that’s how these guys are. Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.”
Last week, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) told Wenk, who has been the Yellowstone superintendent since 2011, that he must accept a reassignment to the Capital Region in Washington, D.C. in 60 days or resign. The Guardian said Wenk had been outspoken about creating more room for wild bison to ramble outside the national park to Montana, a move opposed by the cattle industry, which comprises a core section of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke‘s constituency. Wenk had also questioned proposed sport hunting of grizzly bears.
Jarvis told The Guardian that preservation in large parks, largely in Alaska and the American West, conflicts with Zinke’s hopes to increase industrial development and monetize natural resources located on public lands. He said that Zinke “holds little regard for the esprit de corps traditions of the park service. Dan [Wenk] was set up as the first domino to fall.”
An April 2018 Office of Inspector General at the DOI report scrutinized the reassignment of 27 senior executives between June 15, 2017 and October 29, 2017 and discovered the DOI’s Executive Resources Board “did not document its plan for selecting senior executives for reassignment, nor did it consistently apply the reasons it stated it used to select senior executives for reassignment.” They also found the board “did not gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments” and didn’t effectively communicate with the senior executives or most managers impacted by the reassignments.
The report said, “As a result, many of the affected senior executives questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives…believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change, energy, or conservation.”
Via The Guardian