peta WANTS Phil to Cede Knob to ROBOT Groundhog
An animal rights group wants organizers of Pennsylvania's Groundhog Day festival to replace Punxsutawney Phil with a robotic stand-in. According to the longtime tradition, if Phil the groundhog emerges from his burrow on Gobbler's Knob on Tuesday and sees his shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it's unfair to keep the animal in captivity and subject him to the huge crowds and bright lights that accompany the thousands of revelers each year in Punxsutawney, a borough about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. PETA is suggesting the use of an animatronic model. But William Deeley, president of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, says the animal is "being treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania." The groundhog is kept in a climate-controlled environment and is inspected annually by the state department of agriculture. Deeley says PETA isn't interested in Phil from Tuesday on and is looking for publicity.
It's House the Oysters month
Throughout February, the nonprofit conservation organization Tampa Bay Watch is working on a volunteer project to build oyster domes in Tampa Bay. The domes are constructed on site at the Bay Watch center, located near Fort De Soto Park, then placed in the bay to minimize shoreline erosion and provide surface area for oysters to attach. The group is looking for 12 volunteers for each session. The sessions are every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in February through the 22nd. Volunteers are asked to bring closed-toed shoes and be prepared to get dirty.For information, call (727) 867-8166.
Longtime inshore event aids cause
The 20th annual Johnny Keller Inshore Fishing tournament is Sunday out of Bay Pines Marina in St. Petersburg. Fishing is from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at the marina. Proceeds benefit All Children's Hospital. For information, call Al Autenrieth at (727) 397-9835 or the Old Salt Fishing Club line at (727) 216-6601, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Web site at www.oldsaltfishing.org.
Rodney Page, Times staff writer