Authorities in Colorado and Nebraska are trying to identify whoever has been piloting a squadron of drones across rural areas of both states over the past few weeks. Local officials in Lincoln, Washington, and Sedgwick counties have been inundated with calls from residents who have noticed the drones flying over their ranches in the middle of the night.
Locals are concerned that the drones could be a safety hazard. The area is remote, and many residents own their own private planes.
“It is kind of scary because out where I live, there are many people who have private planes. You never know when one is going to take off, and if they’re big drones, that could be a danger,” Joseph Vencel told KMGH-TV.
While authorities have been unable to determine who is controlling the drones or what their purpose is, locals have their own ideas. Some think the drones are looking for farmers who are illegally growing marijuana, while Vencel suggested they could be equipped with infrared devices to search for spikes in heat and energy usage in the area. Others think farmers could be using the drones to track livestock.
One resident suggested the drones could be spying on people but told the news stations she wasn't overly concerned.
"I think people tend to blow things out of proportion," Amanda Brown said. "And they tend to look and say, 'There are drones,' and think, there are people spying. But at the same time, I don’t really trust government either."
Sedgwick County Sheriff Carlton Britton has spotted the drones himself and joked about the issue.
“Oh, yeah, there’s a lot of conspiracy theories floating in Sedgwick County right now.”
While it appears the drone operators are not breaking any laws, officials would like them to come forward so they can assure residents who are calling to report the nighttime flights.