Dan Wenk, who has led one of the nation's premier parks since 2011, on Friday described as "punitive" the decision by Zinke that he should retire early or be reassigned to a post in Washington, D.C.
A Native American reservation had requested the bison be moved there, and Wenk told the station he believed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a Montana native, understood the relocation.
Wildlife advocates who want changes to the 2000 agreement expressed dismay at Wenk's ouster. To put it in perspective, that's a 37 percent rise over five years ago in 2014.
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The review has cheered energy, mining, ranching and timber advocates but has drawn widespread criticism and threats of lawsuits from conservation groups and the outdoor recreation industry. "Give animals space when they're near trails, boardwalks, parking lots, or in developed areas".
Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift declined to comment directly on Wenk's assertions or the issue of bison management.
Yellowstone officials say a crowd got too close to the bison Wednesday in the Lower Geyser Basin.
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During Wenk's tenure, the park has argued Yellowstone can withstand many more bison than the target of 3,000 that is supported by the Montana Department of Livestock and the ranchers it represents. "We're managing a national park with natural systems", Wenk said.
The Trump administration is forcing the head of Yellowstone National Park out of his job.
Thousands of park bison were shipped to slaughter during his tenure to keep the population in check.
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The 446,875 visits in 2018 represent a six percent increase over the 419,635 notched last year during the same time and broke the former all-time record for May which was 444,630 visits recorded in 2016, the year of the National Park Service Centennial.