US & Canada

British Columbia man thwarts cougar attack with spear

A stock photograph of a cougar
Image caption An official said he believed it was the first time a cougar (shown in a file photo) had been fought off with a spear

A British Columbia man armed with a spear has fought off a cougar which critically mauled his partner.

The attack occurred on Sunday near the couple's cabin on a remote island off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

A large cougar believed to be the attacker was found dead on Monday morning. The woman, 60, was in hospital and expected to recover.

An official said the attack could be the first in which a cougar was fended off and killed by a spear.

The cougar attacked the woman from behind as she was gardening near her home, according to local media reports.

Her common-law partner heard her scream and rushed to her defence.

The woman was airlifted to a hospital in the city of Victoria, where she was initially listed in critical condition. She was later upgraded to stable condition on Monday.

A cougar which appeared to have died from stab wounds was found in the bushes approximately 20m (65.6ft) from the scene of the attack on Monday morning.

"I'm pretty sure that this is the first time in [British Columbia], 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," conservation officer Sgt Ben York told the Vancouver Sun on Monday.

A necropsy is scheduled to be performed on the cougar to determine why it attacked the woman, conservation officials say.