Along with whales and pandas, grizzly bears are among the most famous and most beloved poster children of the environmental movement. But that hasn’t deterred the Bush administration from consistently making land-use decisions that environmental activists say threaten the animals. The administration’s actions — most notably, the halting of a hard-won, Clinton-era plan to reintroduce grizzlies to central Idaho and the removal of some populations from the Endangered Species List — have undermined a fragile alliance among federal experts and enviros working to protect the bears. The latest blow came last week, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that a silver and copper mine beneath Cabinet Mountain Wilderness would not harm a small grizzly population at high risk of extinction. That decision could pave the way for the Rock Creek mine to become the first major mining project permitted to operate beneath a wilderness area.

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