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UFOs in the daily Press:

Crop circle reports in Canada, 2002

This article was published in the Regina Leader-Post via Canadian Press & canada.com and on www.canada.com/news/story.asp?id={20832255-85AD-446A-AA0E-8ABEA694FCFE} on August 1st, 2002.

Whether hoax or genuine phenomenon, Saskatchewan no stranger to crop circles

Canadian Press

Thursday, August 01, 2002

REGINA (CP) - Coming soon, to a field near you - circles of flattened grains that are dismissed as a hoax by some and studied fervently by others. With the impending release of the Mel Gibson thriller Signs, crop-circle aficionados throughout Saskatchewan are all aflutter over the annual phenomenon.

They talk about how one summer, a farmer spotted a formation on his field on a reserve near Punnichy. The next year, a circle turned up on a Hutterite colony in a field of durum wheat.

Last year, the Midale area alone had seven reports.

Paul Anderson, the Vancouver co-ordinator of the Canadian Crop Circle Research Network, said in 2001, Canada had 21 reports of formations, with half of those coming from Saskatchewan.

He expects similar results this year.

"We're waiting for Saskatchewan," said Anderson, who started his non-profit organization in 1995 and files reports on the CCRN Web site.

"It's usually the last half of August and September, that just seems to be the trend. Most of them tend to be found when the farmers are actually out combining."

John Erickson, a pilot from Estevan who photographs crop circles, said he is looking forward to seeing the new movie, which stars Gibson as a man who discovers crop circles on his Pennsylvania farm.

"I'd like to see the ideas these filmmakers have gotten," Erickson said. "It should be interesting.

"All I care about is that people understand it's not people tramping them down with boards and rollers. I think we should understand that there's something going on around here that we don't know about."

Anderson, who works as a graphic designer, puts the circles into three categories: those that are man-made; those created by unusual weather; and those that are unknown.

He said he leans away from the UFO explanation that others embrace, since tests on circles in the "unknown" category have shown that there are changes in soil composition and physical changes to the plant itself, such as the nodes on the stalks being swollen or blown open.

Anderson said he'll probably go see Signs, but he doesn't hold out much hope for an accurate portrayal of the crop- circle phenomenon.

"The whole circumstance and story that surrounds it, it's all Hollywood."

© 2002 The Canadian Press.

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