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THE numbers are here, and so are the UFOs, according to the latest data from the Canadian UFO survey.
The survey, which features data from 2019, shows there are at least two to three UFO sightings a day in Canada, although nearly 40 per cent were categorized "as lights in the sky."
Nationally, the frequency of UFO sightings was 10 per cent lower than in 2018 — but in Manitoba, UFO sightings increased by 10 per cent, bucking the national trend.
The number of reported sightings in Manitoba was fifth among provinces and territories.
Experts say that UFO sightings are on the rise this year, partly because of the pandemic.
The National UFO Reporting Centre in the United States registered a 70 per cent increase in reported UFO cases from January to June of this year, while California-based Mutual UFO Network recorded a 55 per cent rise in UFO reports in Canada over the same period.
Chris Rutkowski, research co-ordinator for Ufology Research, says the spike in reports could be attributed to people spending more time at home and more accessible ways to document sightings.
"Without some major sporting events to attend and a lot of large gatherings shut down, and there’s only so much Netflix you can watch after all. I think a lot of people were spending some time looking up and going for walks and taking dogs for long strolls, so I think that’s certainly a factor that more people are looking up into the sky," said Rutkowski.
"The trend upward though did start a little bit before (the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic). Even in January and February we noticed the number of UFO reports had started to increase over the 2019 levels. So it may be related to (the pandemic), but it certainly has been enhanced by the fact that people are taking time to appreciate what’s going on up in the sky."
However, Rutkowski notes that sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem.
"We had a report from Alberta perhaps of a very bright light in the sky that turns out to have been Venus. So people are seeing things for the first time that they may not have noticed before," said Rutkowski.
In addition to being more observant of the world, Rutkowski said people may also be searching for a deeper meaning.
"People may be looking for a solution, something that will save us from this global pandemic and I think there’s a little bit of saviour mentality that people are looking to someone out there, trying to make everything better down here."
Data for the 2020 year won’t be available until early 2021.
Over the years, Rutkowski said reports have transitioned away from the "Hollywood-style flying saucer" into triangular shapes and even patterns of light.
Winnipeg ranked third in the number of UFO reports among metropolitan areas, behind Vancouver and Montreal.
"There are hot spots throughout Canada from time to time, and there are areas that seem to get more than their fair share of UFOs than they ought to," said Rutkowski, adding the phenomenon is worth tracking.
"UFO reports have not gone away. Some people may have thought that UFOs were nothing but a fad, but they certainly have not gone away."
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