Let's hope Punxsutawney Phil is better at predicting good survival strategies than he is at predicting the weather.
According to reports, an Ohio prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for Punxsutawney Phil after the famous groundhog emerged in Gobbler's Knob, Penn. on Feb. 2 and did not see his shadow, portending an early spring. Warm weather, however, is still out of sight for many. On Friday March 22 the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center predicted "colder than normal temperatures for the Great Plains eastward, except for New England and the upper Midwest."
"It's taking too long," says Don Hughes, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio. "Most people I've talked to say they've had enough. They want spring. They're looking for colors and sunshine and Easter lilies."
According to prosecutor Michael Gmoser, Phil's gross miscalculation warrants the ultimate price.
"Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early," Gmoser wrote in an indictment.
Gmoser states that Phil's false prediction of spring is a felony "against the peace and dignity of the state of Ohio."
Gmoser isn't the only one who thinks Phil should be held accountable. Social media has fumed with backlash against the counterfactual critter and authorities are taking all precautions necessary.
"Right next to where Phil stays is the police station," says Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney club that organizes Groundhog Day. "They've been notified and they said they will keep watching their monitors."
Deeley claims the death penalty threats are "very harsh" and that Punxsutawney Phil has a lawyer ready. Handler John Griffith chimed in.
"If you remember two weeks ago on a Sunday, it was probably 60, 65 degrees," Griffith said. "So, I mean, that basically counts as an early spring."
It has been thought before that Phil's predictions were part of a vast conspiracy, given the groundhog's sponsorship by two banks, two clubs and several corporations. But Phil's handlers dispute the claim.
"No, Punxsutawney Phil's forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle," they posted on Phil's website Groundhog.org.
As for an extradition, bringing Phil to Ohio from Pennsylvania is unlikely, given that transporting wild animals between the states can be illegal.