Judge orders feds to restore Northeastern gray wolves

The U.S. government must intensify efforts to restore gray wolves to the Northeast, a federal court ruled on Friday. U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha said the Bush administration’s decision to lump the sparse gray wolf population of the Northeast in with healthier populations in the upper Midwest, where restoration efforts have been more successful, was a “stark departure” from its original wolf-restoration plan and a violation of the Endangered Species Act to boot. The feds declared in 2003 that nothing more needed doing to return wolves to Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont — a first move toward delisting eastern gray wolves entirely. But no backsies, Murtha told the government on Friday: You said that Northeast wolves are a distinct population and you can’t go redefining them now to make them look healthier than they are. Environmental activists hailed the decision as a big victory.