The Federal District Court in Great Falls heard arguments in the lawsuit filed by Defenders of Wildlife against the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project.
During the proceedings, it was revealed that there is no difference between hatchery pallid sturgeon and wild pallid sturgeon in regards to recovery of the species. This finding means that an additional 18,000 hatchery spawned pallid sturgeon are already in the river despite Defenders of Wildlife’s refusal to count them.
Defenders of Wildlife claimed that the biological opinion that the fish bypass will help the pallid sturgeon are so flawed that they are illegal, which is a major claim. When flaws are less extreme, they are more likely to see a trial due to evidence being available to dispute them. Defenders of Wildlife may have made an extreme statement to avoid a trial. The presiding judge will have to take into account the possibility of an appeal when he makes a final judgment.