National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations, in partnership with several conservation and tourism organizations (click here to see full list ), most notably Wyoming Travel and Tourism have launched a giant “geotourism” program for the Greater Yellowstone Region (click here for the main page of the project website). The effort is intended to “celebrate and help sustain the world-class natural and cultural heritage” of the Greater Yellowstone region (click here for the press release).
The project’s centerpiece is, “a community based process will create a National Geographic ‘Geotourism MapGuide’ for the region centered on Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, and including communities and private and public lands in the three partner states.” In sum, National Geographic and their partners intend to give Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho an economic shot in the arm, in the form of well-heeled tourists, many from Europe, visiting the Greater Yellowstone region. Clearly, these three states couldn’t be more deserving, right?
Just to review: The three beneficiary states are the same ones that presently manage their wildlife with the welfare of the livestock industry first and foremost in mind. In Wyoming, this has recently translated into scores of wolves being killed as they wander away from the security of Yellowstone National Park. Also in Wyoming, this has translated into the development of over 20 winter feedlots for elk in place of natural winter range, all for the benefit of powerful ranchers. The result is disease among the elk and the transformation of wild elk into a fraudulent summertime display for these unsuspecting tourists.
In Montana, the wildlife management paradigm manifests in an annual slaughter of many hundreds of the nation’s last wild bison as they wander north and westward out of Yellowstone National Park in search of winter forage. This year the Montana Department of Livestock killed more wild bison than in any year since the 1870s. The last wild herd was reduced is size by half, and perhaps much more.
Insult to Injury
As if the irony weren’t rich enough, details have recently come to light showing that more than a few of Wyoming’s officials have ample disdain for tourists. Topping the list of vitriol slingers from the Cowboy State: Wyoming Representative Mike Madden (R- Buffalo). When queried by tourists concerned over Wyoming’s new war on wolves, here’s what Madden, a member of the Johnson County Tourism Board, had to say:
No wolves are being killed in Yellowstone. The very few wolves (12) that have been killed have trespassed on private property and have been eating privately owned cattle and sheep. We have such a thing as private property rights here in Wyoming – what a concept for you Germans. You have gotten incorrect information.
Thank you very much for your promise to never visit here again. We have a very very serious surplus of tourists here it [sic] they are threating the ecological balance we have strived to maintain. – M. Madden
Here’s one from Representative Madden to an Austrian tourist:
How many wolves do you have in Austria?? Maybe you would like to have a few of these beautiful creatures shipped over to Austria so they can kill and maim livestock in Austria too. Of course your have no respect for private property rights so the wolves would become welcome new residents of Austria. Have a nice day!! And please choose to vacation anywhere but Wyoming. – M Madden
As Ralph Maughan illustrated in an earlier post, many such responses from Madden and other officials have been chronicled on an Austrian website. Take a moment, and jump on over to get that good ‘ol Wyoming hospitality. Do you want to help put it on a map?
As National Geographic seeks to boost these states’ green image, it seems instead for the time “the chickens to come home to roost.” Let the folks involved with this geotourism project know what you think about how these states really manage their wildlife. Let them know what changes you expect.
Contacts associated with the Geotourism MapGuide of Greater Yellowstone
James Dion, Associate Director
National Geographic Society Center for Sustainable Destinations
Brian Sybert, Wyoming Project Coordinator
Greater Yellowstone Coalition
Barb Cestero, Montana Project Coordinator
Greater Yellowstone Coalition
Kyle Babbitt, Idaho Coordinator
Yellowstone Business Partnership
Diane Shober, Wyoming State Tourism Director
Wyoming Travel & Tourism
Betsy Baumgart, Division Administrator
Travel Montana Promotion Division
Dennis Glick, Regional Director
Sonoran institute – Northern Rockies Office