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The mayor of a small Ontario town defends his decision to keep the death of a famous groundhog a secret.

South Bruce Peninsula City Mayor Janice Jackson said weather prognosticator Wiarton Willie died long before the groundhog’s last day from a tooth abscess.

She says they decided not to speak to the public about the death because they wanted a smooth transition if they found a new albino groundhog.

They have never found one and will use a brown groundhog next year.

Willie fictitiously predicts whether spring is coming early or not depending on whether he sees his shadow.

The festival takes place in early February to celebrate Groundhog Day and is a big tourist draw for Wiarton, Ontario.

Rumors of Willie’s death had been circulating since Groundhog’s last day after the town released a video showing the mayor throwing a fur hat and making the annual prediction of how long the winter will last, without the animal in seen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 25, 2021.

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