BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has given U.S. wildlife officials 18 months to decide if wolverines should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The move follows years of dispute over how much risk climate change and other threats pose to the rare and elusive predators.

Thursday’s order from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy comes after environmentalists challenged a 2020 decision under the Trump administration to withhold protections for the animals in the lower 48 states, where no more than 300 of the animals are thought to remain.

Environmentalists argued that wolverines face localized extinction as a result of climate change, habitat fragmentation and low genetic diversity.