A Fearsome Critter To Behold: The Snow Wasset
The Snow Wasset is a large weasel like Fearsome Critter that migrated between both Northern Canada as well as the Great Lakes region of the United States. The Wasset is said to be a reversed type of animal in that it hibernates during the summer and is most active during the winter months. The critter also has the strange ability to shed its appendages during this time.
During the summer months, the Snow Wasset is described as being slow, short, having green fur, four small yet functional legs that allow it to walk towards shady areas, and it hibernates within cranberry marshes. But once the winter months roll around, its fur turns pure white, it sheds both its front and back legs leaving no trace behind, and takes to traveling around strictly by burrowing through the packed snow that covers the land around it. Once the first snow storm hits the upper north of the United States, the Wasset begins migrating south from Canada until it reaches the areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan. As it travels, it’s body begins to stretch and it gains the ability to travel faster within the snow, this learned skill allows it to sneak up under its prey above and pull it back down into its burrow to devour. Smaller animals such as rabbits, grouse, possum, skunks, and badgers (basically anything that skulks around through the woods) are its favorite meals, but it is not opposed to pulling in the occasional wolf or bobcat if it gets hungry enough. The Snow Wasset is known to have the anger and attitude of a wolverine, but is described as being almost forty times the size of a normal wolverine (a full grown Wasset was nearly 140ft long) and forty times as active.
Lumberjacks of the time often blamed the Snow Wasset as the reason many fellow woodsmen would go missing in the winter woods. When the bodies of those missing were found beneath large snow drifts, it was because of the Snow Wasset pulling down its human victim, letting them freeze to death, and storing their body for later. Often times large holes or depressions would be found in the upper level of the snow which signified that a Snow Wasset had recently been in the area and made a meal of an unfortunate victim above. The only way for lumberjacks to stop and kill a Snow Wasset was to set a trap comprised of at least a dozen deadfalls all rigged together (A deadfall trap is a heavy rock or log that is tilted on an angle and held up with sections of sticks, with one of them that serves as a trigger. When the animal moves the trigger which may have bait on or near it, the rock or log falls, crushing the animal to death) and wait for the critter to set one off. Since the critters body was so long, nobody knew exactly what direction it was travelling, so traps were often set along long stretches of open area in hopes that the Snow Wasset would emerge underneath one and trigger the other traps to all fall at once and crush it to death.
So the next time you are out enjoying a fresh snow in the winter woods, take caution around large snow drifts. You never know if a Snow Wasset is waiting underneath to make you its next meal.
“In early lumberjack folklore, fearsome critters were mythical beasts that were said to inhabit the frontier wilderness of North America. The critters were a part of lumberjack downtime and were often used to welcome and haze newcomers to the camp. Lumberjacks who would go from camp to camp would bring their entertaining stories with them and they would slowly spread as tall tales across America.”
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Public Domain Image