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Woody Breaks Groundhog Gender Barrier

Monday, January 29, 2007

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HOWELL, Mich. — 

Woody has something the nation's other prognosticating groundhogs don't. Female intuition. Gen. Beauregard Lee in Georgia, Sir Walter Wally in North Carolina and, of course, Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania might be more established, but Woody from Howell has a pretty good track record.

She has correctly predicted when spring would arrive six out of eight years.

Why is she so successful?

She relies on her stomach, Richard Grant, executive director of the Howell Conference and Nature Center, told the Detroit Free Press.

Grant said groundhogs eat a lot before the winter, but don't consume much during the colder months.

So, on Friday, if Woody comes out of her home, eats any of the food placed in front of her, such as bananas and peanuts, and stays out for at least 30 seconds, then spring is coming soon. If not, we're in for another six weeks of winter.

Grant said science proves that Woody's sex is an advantage. Female groundhogs "have a whole lot more responsibility," he said, including motherhood. "What do male groundhogs do? They mate ... and then they get hit by cars."

Others, however, aren't convinced that gender plays a role.

"I don't think there would be a difference," said John Griffiths, a member of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle and one of Phil's co-handlers. "As far as we're concerned, there is only one true seer of seers."

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