WIARTON, Ont. — The mayor of a small Ontario town is defending its decision to keep a famous groundhog’s death a secret.
Town of South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson says weather prognosticator Wiarton Willie died well before the last Groundhog Day from an abscessed tooth.
She says they decided to not tell the public about the death because they wanted a smooth transition if they found a new albino groundhog.
They never found one and will use a brown groundhog next year.
Willie fictitiously predicts whether spring comes early or not depending on if he sees his shadow.
The festival occurs in early February as a celebration of Groundhog Day and is a big tourist draw for Wiarton, Ont.
Rumours of Willie’s death had swirled since last Groundhog Day after the town released a video that showed the mayor tossing a fur hat and making the annual prediction about how much longer winter would last, without the animal in sight.