MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge says the state Department of Natural Resources violated the law by not immediately scheduling a wolf hunting season after federal protections were removed in February.

In an order Thursday, Jefferson County Judge Bennett Brantmeier said the agency must hold a hunt immediately any time federal protections are lifted during the statutory hunting season, which runs from November through February.

The injunction was issued in response to a lawsuit brought by Hunter Nation Inc. that challenged the agency's decision not to hold a hunt as soon as the gray wolf was removed from the endangered list in January, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Brantmeier is the same judge who last winter ordered the DNR to hold a hunt in the final days of February. State-licensed hunters killed at least 218 wolves in less than three days, more than the state and tribal quotas combined.

However, wolf hunting in Wisconsin remains on hold while a Dane County judge considers a lawsuit filed in August by a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups seeking to stop the hunt and invalidate the law requiring it.

In a ruling last month, Judge Jacob Frost said the law creating the wolf season is constitutional, but that the DNR failed to create permanent regulations enacting it. He said the injunction will remain in place until the DNR implements updated regulations on quotas and licenses, and updates its management plan with new population goals.