The superintendent of Yellowstone National Park revealed on Thursday that he was being forced out of his post by the Trump administration and that he will be replaced by August.
Superintendent Dan Wenk told The Associated Press that National Park Service acting Director Paul Smith told him that a new superintendent would fill Wenk’s position by August.
Wenk cited an ongoing disagreement between himself, the administration and with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke over the number of bison the park can handle.
“I feel this is a punitive action but I don’t know for sure,” Wenk told the AP, adding that he was not provided with an official reason for his departure.
Montana ranchers have raised concerns over the number of bison in Yellowstone, citing the risk of disease and overgrazing in portions of the park.
Wenk said that Zinke, who served as a Montana congressman prior to joining the administration, and his staff have argued that the bison population is too high.
However, Wenk argues that the number of bison, presently more than 4,000, is sustainable.
“We’re not a livestock operation. We’re managing a national park with natural systems,” he told the outlet. “We do not believe the bison population level is too high or that any scientific studies would substantiate that.”
The Hill has reached out to the National Park Service for comment.
Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift referred The Hill to a previous statement, saying President Trump had directed a reorganization of the government, and that Zinke was out front on the issue.
“The President signed an executive order to reorganize the federal government for the future and the Secretary has been absolutely out front on that issue,”the statement said. “The purpose of the Senior Executive Service [SES] is to ensure that the executive management of the government of the United States is responsive to the needs, policies, and goals of the Nation and otherwise is of the highest quality.
“Senior executives are the highest paid employees in the federal government and signed up for the SES knowing that they could be called upon to work in different positions at any time. Congress meant for the SES to be a mobile force that are capable of taking on different assignments to meet the needs of the agency. Personnel moves among the Senior Executive Service are conducted to better serve the taxpayer and the Department’s operations.”
Wenk announced last week he would be retiring in 2019 after he was offered a transfer that he did not want to agree to.
He worked for the National Park Service for more than 40 years and has spent seven years serving at Yellowstone.
BY JULIA MANCHESTER – 06/07/18