BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- A federal judge has approved a plan allowing Idaho wolf biologists to make brief and limited helicopter landings in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game sought a federal permit to make up to 20 landings so biologists can capture and place radio collars on wolves.

The U.S. Forest Service granted the permit in December. But that decision was challenged in by seven environmental groups claiming such intrusions violated the federal law that created wilderness areas.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill sided with the government on Friday.

While Winmill recognized the dilemma of allowing the landings, he said they are designed to help restore wolves and the preserve's overall wilderness character.

The ruling clears the state to begin making landings as early as next week.

Copyright 2010 The AP.

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