Hundreds spot UFOs in Canadian skies: report

More than 700 people reported spotting unidentified flying objects in the Canadian skies in 2006, according to one of Canada's leading UFO researchers.

More than 700 people reportedseeing unidentified flying objects in the Canadian skies in 2006, according to one ofthe country'sleading UFO researchers.

Winnipegger Chris Rutkowski, who compiles an annual survey of sightings for theWinnipeg-based Ufology Research of Manitoba, said the number is the third-highest in the 17 years of the report's history.

"The fact that these numbers are so high at all suggests that it's a very real phenomenon," Rutkowskisaid after releasing the latest report on Sunday.

"Whether it's something that's tangible, like a flying saucer from another planet, or something a little less so, perhaps psychology-driven, it still is fascinating, and I think science should be paying a little more attention to it."

Most cases: lights in the night sky

British Columbia accounted for 28 per cent of the sightings, which the report noted is a substantial over-representation based on population alone.

Saskatchewan posted an all-time record of 98 sightings, more than half of them fromthe tiny town of Maidstone, just east of the Alberta border.

The most mysterious cases include a huge, black, V-shaped object moving slowly over the Newfoundland coastline last August.

Another reported by a driver outside North Bay, Ont., involved several blue lights that zipped closely pastthe witness'scar and hovered in the trees.

In Rutkowski's report, the working definition of a UFO is "an object seen in the sky which its observer cannot identify." The typical sighting, the report says, is that of two people together who observe a moving, distant white or red light for several minutes.

About two-thirds of the reported cases in 2006 were classified as lights seen in the night sky. Slightlyless than three per cent of cases involved a "close encounter,"most of them involving a person who saw a UFO at close range. Onecase involved reported contact or abduction.

In most cases, reported UFO sightings are eventually identified as conventional objects, such as an aircraft or astronomical object.

In the 2006 report, seven caseswere classified as "high-quality unknowns,"very unusual sightings made by reliable witnesses where no explanation could be found.

With files from the Canadian Press