Yellowstone boss told ouster not due to dispute

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The departing Yellowstone National Park superintendent says park service officials told him he wasn't being forced out of his job over a disagreement with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke over bison management.

But Dan Wenk said Thursday that he still feels he is being punished for unknown reasons by being ordered to transfer to Washington, D.C., instead of being allowed to retire as Yellowstone's superintendent next year as he'd planned.

After Wenk declined the transfer to Washington, he was told he would be gone from Yellowstone by August. He and the park service settled on a Sept. 29 departure date.

The 66-year-old Wenk spoke to reporters in a farewell news conference that lasted nearly two hours as he fielded questions on wildlife management, the exploding number of park visitors and his own relationship with Interior Department leaders. Wenk has been in the park services for 43 years.

Wenk's seven years leading Yellowstone have been marked by an explosion in visitor numbers, tensions over wolf hunts and snowmobile use and a sexual harassment scandal involving Yellowstone's maintenance division.

Dan Wenk was previously a Superintendent at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota before leading at Yellowstone.

His replacement will be Cameron "Cam" Sholly, the park service's Midwest regional director.