Mine in Montana Could Finish Off a Grizzly Population

A copper and silver mine planned for the edge of a wilderness area in Montana could push a small, local population of grizzly bears toward extinction, environmentalists are warning. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the green light for the mine to be built on 1,560 acres of publicly owned forest abutting the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness, saying it wouldn’t hurt the bears, but nine enviro groups disagreed and filed suit in federal court this summer to overturn approval for the mine. “They are letting [the bears] quietly go extinct,” said Louisa Willcox, director of the Wild Bears Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council, in Livingston, Mont. Government officials argue that they have no choice but to allow the mine to be built because the Mining Law of 1872, long hated by environmentalists, gives publicly owned minerals to mining companies at no charge.