VANCOUVER - A British Columbia conservation officer is marvelling at a man's bravery for attacking a cougar with nothing but a spear as the cat was mauling his partner.

"I'm pretty sure that this is the first time in B.C., if not Canada and maybe even North America, where someone has stopped an attack by a cougar with a spear and killed it with a spear," said conservation officer Sgt. Ben York in an interview Monday.

The 60-year-old woman was mauled by the animal late Sunday afternoon while she was gardening outside her home on Flores Island in Clayoquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

York said her common-law partner was nearby, heard the woman's screams and quickly came to her aid.

"That's a significant amount of bravery that he showed," York said.

"I understand why he did it, but it still takes a lot of bravery to do what he did and I'm glad he was there to rescue her. You know it could have turned out a lot differently if he hadn't been around."

The cougar ran off into the bush and the man called for help.

York said a coast guard ship was used to ferry the woman from the island to nearby Tofino and she was then airlifted to hospital in Victoria.

"It's our understanding that she has undergone surgery and is in post-operative care. (She) is in stable condition and is expected to recover."

Conservation officers and a cougar hunter with a specially-trained tracking dog landed on the island Monday and quickly found the body of the cougar about 20 metres from the attack site.

He said the man stabbed it several times with the spear and that was the likely cause of death, but a necropsy will also be preformed on the animal to determine what may have caused the animal to jump on the woman.

York said they may never know why the cougar attacked because sometimes cougars look at people as if they're prey.

He said the couple had had some encounters in the last few months with a cougar that had been acting aggressively towards them. He believes it was the same animal that attacked the woman Sunday.

York said it appears likely the man tried to prepare himself for any kind of event and kept the spear handy.

"It may be that he just looked around for what he had available and made it ready just in case, and as it turned out it was a good idea."

York said it was obvious the man wasn't going to let the cougar have the woman without a fight.

"This was his partner of some years, so there's no way he was going to let that cougar have it's way."

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