Snow Wasset. - Latin name: (Mustelinopsis subitivorax.) - [Fearsome critter.]
• About this Critter: Snow Wassets are large slinky seal-like, limbless predators, Native to the Northern part of the Great Lakes region & Hudsons bay, Canada. - As soon as the first snowfall of winter sticks, the Wasset becomes an apex hunter, Said to be "four times as big and forty times as active as a wolverine" they tunnel like torpedos underneath the snow, biting at the legs of small game such as birds, rabbits and occasionally wolves or even bears! occasionally unweary lumbermen migh trip into a hole & are dragged to their doom, leaving nothing but bloody stains on the surface of the snow... They are said to be so vicious that woodsmen would set up log traps to try and flatten the creatures! - Natives were also said to stretch the Wasset fur to line their canoes*
...In the summertime, They are said to hibernate as far north as the Barren Grounds, North of Labrador, resting inside of cranberry bogs, they grow short limbs in order to make a den, their fur turns a greenish hue, and they nibble on whatever berries the farmers leave behind. (According to a Paul Bunyan story from 1959: in the springtime, Snow Wassets are instead called "What Wasset".)
[William T Cox's Snow-Wasset, attacking a wolf.]
..According to an anonymous story included in "Stories of the Greatlakes" [1949.] – The Snow Wasset allegedly have oral roots connecting it to a similar behaving lake beast from native Ojibwe folklore. - Scary stories about "gigantic ocean creatures that lost their legs in the Winter & grew them back in the spring" where shared between native fishermen & sailors. - "Snow Wasset" was the name that the sailors would use for it instead of the given native name, it seems that over time, these stories spread via campfire across Lumbercamps where The "Snow Wasset" became a fearsome critter inhabiting the winter Lumber woods, rather than a terrible monster from the sea. (The book also mentions the same "James Bay, Snow-Wasset Sled" which Cox also mentioned briefly, in further detail.) [*Please note: there's actually very little else i can find to verify this part of the story. - However, This book does give the story a source and credits it "in thanks to the University of Michigan." – so, If you're a specialist, native folklorist or are familiar with the native folklore mentioned in the Snow Wasset story included in "Stories of the Greatlakes" - Please let me know! - For now: As with most "fearsome critters" I'd say take this paragraph & part of the story with a pinch of salt.]
In a few Paul Bunyan Stories, Snow Wassets were said to be especially active during the "Blue Winter" and were much more easily hunted because of their stark white fur in contrast with the especially cold blue snow.
Though descriptions have varied over time, Most Modern depictions of the Snow Wasset are often far more serpent or weasel-like than Cox's version, the above photo's muzzle makes it feel more akin to a sea lion rather than like a weasel. - I suppose something was lost in translation over time. [Though, Admittedly a weasel does make more sense for a woodland creature, I suppose. So, I decided to attempt for a middle ground, I'm unsure if I succeeded. but I do know what I drew is cute at least!! it's snowing here again, so I had to seize the moment for decent photographs before it all melted. 🤣
• See also: There are quite a few similarities between the wasset and yet another fearsome critter called the "SnowSnake." (this similarity was not lost on lumber folks from around the time) - The fact that it "swims underfoot" makes it quite similar to some "Wampus cat" stories which do indeed seem to derive from native folklore.