BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. government attorneys are appealing a court ruling that restored protections for grizzly bears in the Northern Rockies and blocked plans to hold the first public hunts for the animals in decades.

Notice of the appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was filed Friday by attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal Judge Dana Christensen sided with wildlife advocates when he ruled in September that officials should not have removed threatened species protections for more than 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

The ruling came as Wyoming and Idaho were on the cusp of hosting the first public hunts for grizzly bears in the Lower 48 since 1991.

Federal and state officials contend Yellowstone-area grizzlies have made a full recovery.