An Ohio prosecutor has called for the death penalty of the state's groundhog after he wrongly predicted an early spring.
Tradition has it that if groundhog Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his temporary home on Gobbler's Knob on February 2 (groundhog day), and does not see his shadow then residents will bask in an early spring.
If he returns to his amusingly-named residence, then winter will continue for the next six weeks.
However as the US continues to be battered by snowstorms and altogether un-spring-like weather, Butler County attorney Mike Gmoser stated:
"The offence of MISREPRESENTATION OF EARLY SPRING, is an Unclassified Felony, and against the peace and dignity of the State Of Ohio."
Groundhog Phil is alleged to have acted "purposely, and with prior calculation and design, (to) cause the people to believe that spring would come early.
Damning him further, Gmoser added:"The people further find and specify that due to the aggravating circumstances and misrepresentation to the people that the death penalty be implemented to the defendant, Punxsutawney Phil."
Although groundhogs are believed to live for 10-14 years, Ohio lore says that Punxsutawney Phil is actually 123 years old after feeding on a magical Groundhog Elixir.
Phil, after making the prediction allegedly then speaks to the Groundhog President in "Groundhogese", which is then translated to the world.
It is worth noting that Gmoser admits the indictment was some light relief after a hard day at the office. However Phil's groundhog handlers have lept to his defence.
Jeffrey Lundy, vice president of the Punxsutawney Ground Hog Club told Fox News: “He's going to have to go through 15 licensed hunters to get to Phil,” said Lundy, referring to members of the Groundhog club's inner circle.
“We'll find out how good of a prosecutor [Gmoser] is. If he doesn't know how to speak groundhog-ese, he'll never understand a word Phil says.”
Needless to say, Phil was not available for comment.