Government officials are tamping down expectations for efforts to recover debris from unidentified flying objects (UFOs) that were shot out of the sky over North America.
The U.S. and Canada announced there would be retrieval operations so investigators could better understand these objects. Officials have warned all along how wild terrain and winter weather might complicate the process.
“I think it’s important to remind: the objects in Alaska and Canada are in pretty remote terrain — ice, wilderness, all of that — making it difficult to find them in winter weather,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday. “And the object over Lake Huron now lies in what is probably very deep water.”
By Tuesday, officials were outright casting doubt on whether these salvage missions will be able to find anything.
“If it can’t be recovered, it’s going to be extremely difficult to say with great certainty what these things were,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN on Tuesday morning.
A Canadian official provided a similarly cautious message.
“We are working very hard to locate them, but there’s no guarantee that we will,” said Sean McGillis, a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“The terrain in the Yukon is rather treacherous right now so it could pose some significant challenges to us in terms of our recovery efforts. The same could be said about what’s taking place in Lake Huron, the marine conditions are also not conducive at the moment,” McGillis added.
These UFOs flew at such an altitude that they endangered civilian aircraft and were possibly conducting surveillance, officials have said. The Pentagon says these flying objects differed from the one shot down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4. While the U.S. assesses that object was a Chinese spy balloon, China claims it was a civilian research craft that was blown off course.
Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday there was “no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity” with the recent takedowns. White House national security spokesman John Kirby announced that President Joe Biden ordered U.S. officials to create an interagency team to investigate “unidentified aerial phenomena.”
On Tuesday, Kirby said a “leading explanation” offered by the U.S. intelligence community is that the three UFOs “were simply tied to commercial or research entities and therefore benign,” according to The New York Times.
U.S. senators received a classified briefing about the UFOs on Tuesday. Upon walking out of the room, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) reiterated how recovery operations are underway.
“They’re not at a stage where they’re going to categorically identify them. You know, there are balloons, blimps, a number of other things. It’s not from outer space,” he told reporters.