WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. federal judge on Friday ordered the gray wolf in the Great Lakes region be put back on the endangered list.
The move came two years after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dropped federal protections for the animal and handed their management back over to the states. That allowed the animals to be hunted in the region for the first time in 40 years.
Michigan's Humane Society of the United States filed the lawsuit to overturn the Obama administration's decision.
"In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations," said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at the Humane Society of the United States.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said the wolf's removal from the federal endangered species list was "arbitrary and capricious" and violated the Endangered Species Act.
Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Gavin Shire said the department is disappointed with Howell's ruling. The department may appeal.
"The science clearly shows that wolves are recovered in the Great Lakes region, and we believe the Great Lakes states have clearly demonstrated their ability to effectively manage their wolf populations," Shire said. "This is a significant step backward."