BILLINGS, Mont (AP) — A judge has ordered federal protections restored for gray wolves across much of the U.S. after they were removed in the waning days of the Trump administration.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said in Thursday's ruling that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Wildlife advocates had argued state-sponsored hunting threatened to reverse the gray wolf's recovery over the past several decades.
Federal officials had argued that the wolves were resilient enough to bounce back even if intensive hunting led to numbers dropping sharply, according to the Associated Press,
The AP reported that wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are not directly impacted by the ruling.
The news outlet reported that wolves in portions of several adjacent states would remain under state jurisdiction.
Interior Department spokesperson Melissa Schwartz told the AP that the agency would review the decision.