BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit from conservation groups that want to block wolf hunts that have killed more than 500 of the predators across the Northern Rockies in recent months.

Wednesday's ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Congress had the right to intervene when it stripped protections from wolves last spring.

Lawmakers stepped in after court rulings kept wolves on the endangered list for years after they reached recovery goals.

The number of wolves in the region grew slightly last year. There are at least 1,774 in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and portions of eastern Oregon and Washington.

Wolf hunting is allowed in Montana and Idaho, and it could resume in Wyoming this fall.

Idaho also allows trapping.