Don't Help….Yellowstone geotourism map

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?

Had enough?

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


  1. vicki Avatar

    There is an editorial I wrote about WYoming and how I feel about it’s policies, it was published 4/29-08 in The Greeley Tribune. I’m glad I could make some noise!
    It actually shows a man with a dead wolf on display. The article is bi-lined Wyoming hunt:Bad wildlife management.
    If you care to read, it would be at

  2. Graham Avatar

    As a “a community based process [that] will create a National Geographic ‘Geotourism MapGuide’ for the region” do you think they will let us community members contribute to the map marking the slaughtering grounds of wolves and bison? Can we mark Wyoming on the map as the place where tourists aren’t necessarily welcomed with citations from Representative Madden? I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with the “geotourism program” if all sides of the issues are reported.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Graham, I think perhaps they believe that this ingrained cultural antagonism to the natural outdoors can be coaxed away with projects like this.

    After all it works in some places! They fail to understand how tightly the culture justifies the degradation of the environment and the perpetuation of inequality and domination by extractive industry and a landed elite.

  4. vicki Avatar

    I found the premise of the “nomination” a joke.
    It is supposed to be about places that promote th environment.
    Can any of us actually say, as a state, that Wyoming even comes close? I know I can’t. The environment is far down on the list of priorities for WYoming. The only that may be lower is their appreciation for the opinions of people who actually do travel to the state.
    I can’t begin to comprehend how Nat’l Geographic would get involved with this, given how they were so big on promoting reintroduction of wolves. It is hypocritical to say the least. The message they have given me is that they are more interested on being paid to promote a bogus agenda than give factual data about ‘culture’ and ‘environment’.
    Maybe they should get the nomination pretext to say something like ..Nominate a place where the environment is treated as a low priced commodity, the culture is divided(some people are hospitable and concerned-the some are hell bent on destroying the progress made and resource in the state), some law makers and government officials express a very obvious disregard for anyone from another state, and can be down right offensive to them!
    This is a well orchestrated attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

  5. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    Hey, national geo has a open letter opinion policy, write them and let them know the truth, then all will read that too, comments are posted in the magazine the next month a article is printed. I am going to write them.

  6. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    GYC is behind this; it put out a press release about 6 weeks ago about what a big collaborative deal this was with National Geo and how GYC was working hard on sustainable economic development with local officials (e.g., Cody officials). If I recall correctly, this was about the same time or slightly before GYC decided to announce publicly that it supports wolf delisting.

    If anyone still believes GYC is a conservation group, you have more patience than I do.

  7. Ryan Avatar

    This protest seems very counteractive to me. If your goal is for people to see how special you all think wolves are, then getting people out to see them would help your cause right?

  8. Brian Ertz Avatar


    the point of the piece is to demonstrate that pretending like this cultural hegemony – and the political consequences of such on wolves and ecosystems in general – doesn’t exist, and then rewarding it in the midst of the denial of its deleterious effect is not wise and actually counterproductive… feeding the cowboy myth — greenwashing the character of the culture – muffles the awareness. there needs to be a confrontation with reality on the part of these groups that insist on denying the truths that :

    a. the Livestock lobby is largely, if not exclusively, responsible for many of the environmental consequences mentioned above.

    b. buying into the illusion on commercial pretenses, and amplifying the illusion of the cowboy myth does nothing to dissuade the consequences.

    getting people out to see wolves with flashy photos celebrating the custom and culture of the party that uses the very idea of such custom and culture to politically dominate and destroy wildlife and wild places is dishonest, and ultimately counterproductive.

  9. sal Avatar

    National Geographic sold out back in 1998. I canceled my membership then.

    This is truly greenwashing of two, for certain, of the dirtiest states in the west. It makes the ecosystem one step closer to some form of electronic entertainment that is meant to be a substitute for the challenge of the wild places in this world.

    These mythical cowboys are so afraid of the natural world and want so badly to control it that they would rather destroy it if they can’t control or profit from it~and nobody else can have neither.

  10. izabelam Avatar

    I just sent an e-mail to NG. I wonder if they ever post or read.
    And, I am cancelling my subscritpion.
    I wish my friends were more open minded.
    It bothers me that some people are so resigned and dont’ want to voice their opinions based on: it will not do any good. It will not change anything…you can’t win with the ranchers deep pockets..grrrrrrrrrr
    And that’s why we have what we have, including officials in goverment – from the top to the bootm.

  11. JB Avatar

    Perhaps you could assist by marking all of the places/dates in which wolves and bison were killed? Photos would be a nice touch as well.

  12. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    Hell – in addition to marking locations where wolves-bison are indiscriminately killed for no valid reason why not set up a link showing the photo and the name, adrs and employer/business of the shooter? When I’m visiting WY/ID/MT I’d like togive my $$ to people / businesses w/ a rational understanding and promotion of the wildlife issues in these states — how about instead of a BBB window sticker (if that is even used nowadays) businesses can show a “Ralph Maughan Friends” decal! If possible to track, it would be interesting to see how Wolf friendly businesses would benefit from tourist $$ versus those that took no stance.

  13. vicki Avatar

    I’d say that is an awesome idea. I’d also be curious about the economic shift. I’d also be happier to spend my money there, than have to obstain from spending all together. I just can’t, in good conscience, hep those who support the wreckless policies in place.
    I am not telling anyone how to spend their $, just saying how I won’t spend mine.

  14. Buffaloed Avatar

    After all of what has been revealed about GYC, with the CUT deal, supporting wolf delisting, and now this. I wonder why people even bother giving money to them. They support ranching, ranching is the culture of death. It appears that the more you collaborate with the industry the more you inadvertently support this culture of death that has no legitimate place in the west.

    Sage Grouse
    Mountain Lions
    Bighorn Sheep
    Numerous trout species
    The sage brush ecosystem and everything that depends on it.
    Alpine meadows

    All of these things are destroyed to support the incompatible western livestock industry. All of these resources belong to the PUBLIC and we are being suckered into subsidizing their destruction so that we can get a crap filled hamburger at McDonalds. We elect ranchers to the legislature and the governorship, we put them on the board of directors of “environmental groups” like GYC and the Nature Conservancy, we put them in movies where they are glamorized as “heroes and rugged individualists” when they are nothing more than bullies who are the real WELFARE RECIPIENTS and who kill and destroy everything that gets in their way.

    Welfare Ranching on public lands of the west must stop. Cattle and their owners just destroy the west. Their way of life is nothing special and nobody is supporting my way of life.

    Enough already!

  15. vicki Avatar

    I sent them an email about this. I was given a cheesey response. I forwarded it to Ralph, but it was another attempt to smoke screen, and stated it was “unfortunate” but the views of one individual don’t represent the opinions of all in Wyoming. It gave me a link the the Game and Fish’s wolf report! Maybe they should list the link in the travel brochure!!!!

  16. vicki Avatar

    My email to the above listed contacts read…
    National Geographic and Associates,

    I would like to counter, no, I want to out and out oppose any nomination for Wyoming on any level! The state’s blatant disregard for the opinion of tourists shows how little it deserves recognition or promotion of anything related to tourism.

    Furthermore, Wyoming has had numerous public officials quoted recently making disparaging remarks which imply a strong dislike of anyone from another state who has an interest or opinion about the preservation of the environment.

    To allow for Wyoming to be a part or your program would serve you a great injustice, as well as discredit the integrity of what you are attempting to promote.

    Wyoming’s management of wildlife and resources is a flagrant display of hatred toward what National Geographic has built a reputation on promoting, conservation.

    Until Wyoming owns up to it’s environmental neglect and mismanagement, I say no to their nomination.

    Not only will I not patronize businesses that are promoted for this, or that back the industrialized slaughter of species that should be protected, I will publicly denounce their sincere interest in protecting the environment.

    Wyoming’s government, in my opinion, has made it’s lack of interest in tourist’s opinions, or their presence in the state, very public. Please show your support for the environment by not including Wyoming in this endeavor.


    I got this response:

    May 7, 2008,

    Dear __________Family,

    Thank you for your recent email regarding the wolf management plan in Wyoming. I appreciate your concern but regret that you have chosen to bypass Wyoming for your upcoming vacation.

    While it is unfortunate., the words and thoughts of one individual do not depict how the State of WYoming feels as a whole. Tourism is the second leading industry in Wyoming and there are many organizations within this great state that proudly promotes it by welcoming thousands of visitors each year.

    As the administrating agency, Wyoming Game and Fish offers information on the wolf management plan and any updates on their website. I encourage you to visit

    Again, I appreciate you taking the time to express your concern and I wish you the best in your vacation endeavors.

    Diane Shober
    Wyoming Travel and Tourism

    Funny, my letter never mentioned wolves. Form letter, huh?
    I think they must be getting a large volume of resistence to this. Please, help to not help….email or write or call the people above!

  17. vicki Avatar

    After re-reading the email I got, I am left to assume it was a form letter, as it talks about wolf management. The email I sent never referred specifically to wolves.
    That tells me they are receiving a lot of response about this. Please, if you are so inclined, write, email, phone the above llisted contacts.

  18. Ryan Avatar

    Just out of curiosity, what do you do for a living?

  19. Big Balls Avatar
    Big Balls

    So now that the site is live anyone can sign up on the participate page and write content. It’s that simple, speak your minds.

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Brian Ertz