Government officials believe as many as two dozen of the alien beasties - some as big as 12 feet high and 3,000 pounds - disappeared into the Wasatch-Cache National Forest after the Feb. 11 crash, according to a cover story in this week's issue of the Weekly World News.
"One thing I saw slithering away looked like a cross between a mongoose and a caterpillar," an eyewitness told the humor tabloid. "Another looked like an anorexic rhino with leathery wings."
SPACE ARK CRASHES IN UTAH! blares the headline above a photo of soldiers guarding a captured creature - which, strangely enough, looks like a dust mite magnified a few thousand times - outside the crippled spacecraft. The story says that more than 400 troops and scientists were sent to secure the crash site, about 35 miles southeast of Brigham City, and recover the escaped space monsters.
This is big news! you might rightly say. Why weren't Utahns informed of this sooner?
Because, the WWN says, federal and state authorities launched "an audacious cover-up" to keep details of the crash secret.
"With all due respect to the good people of Utah, we don't want every redneck in the state hunting these strange 'critters' with shotguns and hound dogs," an unnamed government scientist told the tabloid. "These extraterrestrial life-forms are of the utmost scientific value - alive, not roped to the hood of some fool's pickup."
The article also quotes a "leading exobiologist," Stan Hilderkind, who fears the alien creatures may have been genetically engineered to breed with Earth animals.
"No dog or cat in the state is safe," said Hilderkind, who has apparently achieved some distinction in his field despite that multiple Internet searches produce no references to his name. "If you happen upon a strange animal, don't attempt to feed or pet it - and keep your dog away from it, too."
Here at The Salt Lake Tribune, we are embarrassed at being scooped on this unusual breaking story. But at least we weren't the only ones in the dark. Chip Sibbernsen, Ogden district ranger for the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, also professed to be unaware of the crashed space ark.
"I'm at a loss for words," he said Tuesday. "If you hear anything, let us know."
The WWN article also says that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s office "adamantly denies all knowledge of the UFO crash." This came as a surprise to the governor's spokeswoman, Tammy Kikuchi, who said she has not heard from a Weekly World News reporter.
"I feel so left out," she told The Tribune on Tuesday. As for the "audacious cover-up," Kikuchi said, "let me tell you - if something like that happened, I could not keep it a secret."