State employees counting sheep from a helicopter stumbled upon an unusual sight in a remote part of Utah: a metal structure between 10 and 12 feet high, made from some kind of metal, planted firmly in the ground.

Bret Hutchings, a helicopter pilot for the Utah Department of Public Safety, told the local KSL TV news station, “That’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying.”

Hutchings was accompanied by biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource. The state employees were counting bighorn sheep in a remote part of southern Utah.

According to Hutchings, “One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it. 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!’”

According to the first observations made, the mysterious metal monolith appears to have been intentionally placed in the area, not dropped from the sky.

Hutchings believes the object is an art installation inspired by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some have compared it to sculptures by artist John McCracken, who died in 2011, though McCracken’s gallerist has not yet responded to requests for comments.

The flight crew has not revealed the monolith’s exact location for fear some might attempt to find it and get stuck in a dangerous environment.