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New details have emerged suggesting the strange steel monolith that vanished shortly after its discovery in Utah was taken by a group of self-described environmentalists.
The 12-foot-tall object, which appeared near Salt Lake City, was reportedly broken down and removed on Friday by four men, according to Colorado photographer Ross Bernards.
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The 34-year-old, who posted photos and details on Facebook, recalled that the group crated away what was left of the monolith in a wheelbarrow, saying, "Leave no trace" and, "This is why you don’t leave trash in the desert."
The monolith had reportedly been placed on public land in red rock country without permission, though the San Juan County Sheriff's Office told the Associated Press Wednesday that it was not planning on investigating.
Its disappearance, however, is another matter. "The theft — that is what we are looking into," San Juan County Sheriff Jason Torgerson clarified in a Tuesday interview with KSL.com. "But we have not had anyone come forward to say they are missing a monolith."
On Tuesday, YouTuber and slackliner Sylvan Christensen and BASE jumper Andy Lewis took credit for the monolith's removal, posting a short video clip in which men carry a part of it.
In a statement, Christensen said they were motivated to take the monolith because of the "damage caused by the internet sensationalism."
"We removed the Utah monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, fresh water sources, and human impacts upon them," he said. "The mystery was the infatuation and we want to use this time to unite people behind the real issues here — we are losing our public lands — things like this don't help."
The Bureau of Land Management has reported cars parked on vegetation and an increase in litter since the monolith was found on Nov. 18.
The agency had been conducting aerial surveillance of bighorn sheep when the object was found. Officials have since determined that the structure was placed on the land sometime between August 2015 and October 2016.
Ripley's Believe It or Not! is offering a $10,000 reward for information pertaining to the Utah monolith.
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Utah is not the only place where one has popped up. A similar structure found in northern Romania last week and a phallic-shaped sculpture from Germany have both recently disappeared without explanation.
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