The newest recruit at the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown is 60 cm in height, four kilograms in weight and will carry the title of special agent. This little soldier also happens to be a groundhog (also known as a woodchuck).
Lee Ellen Pottie, executive director of the New Brunswick Provincial Capital Commission says, “The way the folks at the base explained it to me is that they do have some problems predicting the weather there. So they decided to enlist the groundhog. And we got on board. We thought it was a great idea.”
New Brunswick's groundhog will join a long list of weather predicting rodents across North America, including Wiarton Willy from Wiarton, Ontario and Shubenacadie Sam from Shubencadie, Nova Scotia. For years, this animal has helped officials determine when spring will arrive on Groundhog Day, which falls on February 2nd.
On this day, if the groundhog leaves its burrow, it is an indication that winter will soon come to a close. However, if the day is sunny and the groundhog sees his shadow and then returns to the burrow, it means that winter will continue for a further six weeks.
But before the newest provincial groundhog is put to work, a name will first have to be decided on. To help the process,the New Brunswick Provincial Capital Commission and CFB Gagetown held a competition for children between the ages of six and 18 from the province to come up with a name.
“I am hoping that we are going to get a lot of responses from the young people of New Brunswick about naming this groundhog,” adds Pottie. “We are hoping it is going to be something catchy.”
The contest ended on January 27, 2011 and a name-revealing ceremony will be held on February 2 for the public. Aside from bragging rights, the winner will get a VIP tour of the base and a gourmet lunch along with demonstrations of light armored vehicles and flight simulators.
With files from The Globe and Mail