Feb 11, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Judge restores federal protections for gray wolves amid hunting concerns

Photo of a black and brown wolf with her tongue out

A female Mexican gray wolf in a captive breeding enclosure at the California Wolf Center near Julian, Calif., in 2015. Photo: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday restored federal protections for gray wolves in several parts of the U.S. in a win for wildlife advocates that feared for the wolves' viability.

Why it matters: The Trump administration had removed the protections, claiming the species did not need them anymore since they were no longer subject to active eradication. Wildlife advocacy groups sued, however, arguing that the move left wolves vulnerable to hunters, among other concerns.

  • "At stake is the future of a species whose recovery from near-extinction has been heralded as a historic conservation success," the AP notes.

What they're saying: The court largely sided with advocates on Thursday, finding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to prove that wolf populations in the Midwest and parts of the West would remain viable without federal protections, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White wrote.

  • The service also "failed to adequately conduct a threats assessment" for wolves outside that core region, White said.

The big picture: Thursday's order puts gray wolves back on the U.S.' endangered species list.

  • Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and adjacent states remain under state jurisdiction due to steps taken by Congress to lift federal protections in the region.
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