The monolith was removed “by an unknown party,” the Bureau of Land Management said in a statement. The bureau said its workers did not remove the monolith, calling it “private property.”
“We do not investigate crimes involving private property which are handled by the local sheriff’s office. The structure has received international and national attention and we received reports that a person or group removed it on the evening of Nov. 27,” the bureau stated.
The structure, which was illegally placed on lands managed by the bureau, appeared earlier this month.
Workers with the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau and the the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources were conducting a count of big horn sheep in the southeastern portion of the state on Nov. 18 when they spotted “an unusual object and landed nearby to investigative further,” the department said in a press release.
“One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” pilot Bret Hutchings told KSL-TV. “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like, ‘what.’ And he’s like, ‘There’s this thing back there—we’ve got to go look at it!’”
The crew members found a metal monolith installed in the ground in a remote area of red rock, the department said. Crew members said there was no obvious indication of who might have put the monolith there. Hutchings said he believed it was manmade.
The exact location of the installation wasn’t disclosed because officials were concerned people would trek to the remote area and become stranded and require rescue.
Soon enough, some explorers figured out where the structure was and traveled there.
David Surber captured photographs and video footage of the monolith, telling people how exactly they could get there.
“Super cool site. I think I was the first one there by 10 minutes this morning,” he said in a video posted on Instagram on Nov. 26.
The site is about 2,000 feet off of a trafficked 4×4 off-roading location, he added later, saying he doesn’t view it as remote.
The Bureau of Land Management reminded people visiting public lands that using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorization is illegal, “no matter what planet you are from.”