During the 1700’s, in the Northeast Kingdom area of Vermont, lived mostly woodsmen, trappers, hunters and fishermen and their families, mostly of the Wabanaki tribe. It is told that it was also inhabited by Slipperyskin, a “bear” which is supposed to have caused great misery among the settlers. He earned this name because he managed to elude every trap that was ever set for him. The Indians knew him and called him Wejuk or Wet Skin.
People felt he was a mean animal, and evidently had a grudge against humans. He destroyed their fences, ripped up their gardens, frightened their cows and sheep and tromped through the cornfields…even throwing huge rocks at any machinery left in the fields overnight. Stories are always told of him running on his hind legs and never on all fours. Before a hunter could lay sights on him, the old “bear” would vanish into the woods as silent and swift as a whisp of smoke.
The animal found satisfaction in tipping over newly stacked woodpiles, throwing rocks in hayfields and poking logs into bear traps. The earliest written report of Slipperyskin came from a man named Duluth, who passed through the then unsettled country in 1759. He wrote in his journal that as they made their way, they “were ever being annoid, for naught reason, by a large black bear…who would throw large pinecones and nuts down upon us from trees and ledges, the Indians being also disgusted, and knowe him, and call him Wejuk or Wet Skine.” Into the 1800’s he was still harassing the towns and villages as they were growing in population. Many hunting parties were organized, but always came up fruitless. Eventually, Slipperyskin disappeared entirely, with no one knowing where it came from or exactly what it was.