Idaho’s Wild Wapaloosie

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Idaho’s Wild Wapaloosie

Idaho’s Wild Wapaloosie Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts Written by William T. Cox • Illustrated by Coert Du Bois • With Latin Classifications by George B. Sudworth (Washington: Judd & Detweiler, Inc., 1910) Original Text and Illustrations Public Domain License.

The beautiful terrain of one of the United State’s most western states provides the perfect habitat for things like black bears, salmon, western rattlesnakes, mountain lions, wolves, deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, geese, ducks, otters, beavers, badgers, raccoons, muskrats and foxes.  While many of these creatures all well-known both in the western state of Idaho, many are known nation and world wide.  One animal that many might not be familiar with is the Idaho native, the Wapaloosie.

(images:65585410@N02/flickr) Wapaloosie Trail

(images:[email protected]/flickr)
Wapaloosie Trail

Idaho’s Wapaloosie live in the damp forests of Northern Idaho, near the St. Joe River through the Pacific Coast.  Hunters and trappers describe the animals as being the size of a sausage dog with the feet and toes of a woodpecker.  Others have described their bodies to be similar to those of an inchworm, in that they are segmented, giving the creature even more agility and flexibility.  Their zygodactyl feet allow them to be great climbers and scavengers.

The Wapaloosie also have a tail that is spiked, which makes it an even more efficient climber throughout the forest trees.  Being agile climbers, they are often described to have the mobility and gracefulness of squirrels as they jump from tree to tree.  This especially helps them with their food finding.  The Wapaloosie only feed on mushrooms and shelf fungus that grow in the depths of the tall trees.

While they sound harmless in nature, they are described as being a lumberjacks worst nightmare.  One lumberjack especially shares a word of caution for others to heed his advice to steer clear of the tiny creatures.  On one logging adventure, the lumberjack stumbled upon one of the curious creatures.  He was immediately intrigued by the animals odd body shape and the way it carried himself.  Even more interesting was the soft, delicate but protective fur that covered the animal.

The lumberjack shot and killed one of the animals.  Upon further examination of the corpse, he decided to make a unique pair of protective gloves.  He carefully skinned the Wapaloosie and took great care in tanning the hide.  In designing the gloves, he decided to keep the fur on the outside, creating a both fashionable and useful pair of utility gloves.  He was excited to use the gloves and show them to friends, wondering if he had found a unique way to make some extra money.  He was sure once everyone saw the gloves, they would want their own pair.



Unfortunately, after finally being able to utilize the gloves, he noticed that upon touching or resting his hands on anything, they seemed to take on a mind of their own.  His hands seemed to automatically climb to the top of the object as if scurrying to get high enough to be able to reach the top of a tree.  On one occasion, the lumberjack went to pick up his axe.  He was shocked when his hands naturally moved by themselves to the top of the axe blade.  He dropped the axe in horror, barely missing his foot.

After trying everything he could to take control of his hands in the gloves, he decided the gloves were useless and discarded them.  He left the useless, almost living gloves, discarded in the forest and went about his work.  Moments later, he was shocked to see those very gloves climbing through the trees of the forest, almost taunting him.

Since that time, others have attempted to recreate the gloves and have found themselves in a similar predicament.  It seems the Wapaloosie, no matter its condition or form, refuse to be controlled.  Reports are still made by forest visitors of seeing what appears to be a set of gloves happily navigating the forest trees.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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