In what is perhaps North America’s first recorded case of a spear being used to kill a cougar in self-defense, a British Columbia resident is being hailed as a hero after he used the tool to save his common-law partner from a mountain lion near their home on remote Flores Island on September 8. According to The Globe and Mail, the 60-year-old woman was being mauled in her garden when the unidentified man heard her screams. Officials say that the man took up a spear, likely made for boar hunting, and stabbed the large cat several times. The mountain lion ran off and the man was able to procure help for his injured girlfriend.
“That’s a significant amount of bravery that he showed,” conservation officer Ben York told The Globe and Mail. “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.”
Early reports indicated that the woman’s wounds are significant, including puncture marks from powerful bites and heavy damage to the victim’s scalp. She underwent surgery and is expected to recover.
After the incident conservation officers scoured the surrounding countryside in search of the animal. With the help of a cougar hunter, they found the animal’s carcass a short distance away from the house. It appeared to have died from the spear-inflicted wounds. The man says he had seen the mountain lion prowling near his house and that it was becoming increasingly bold over the last several months. Other residents of island told The Vancouver Sun they had also seen the large cat in the vicinity.
“Me and another guy saw what we thought was a wolf or a dog in the bay and we went to check it out,” said Bill Dennis, who encountered what he believes is the same animal near a local channel. “I got within 100 feet of the float and it jumped out of the water like a fish and I thought ‘Holy crap, that’s a cougar.'”
Dennis said the cougar chased him and his friend for short distance before disappearing.
Officials say the dead cougar was a three-year-old male and an investigation is underway to find out what made it aggressive towards humans on the island.
Update 9/24/2013: This article has been edited and updated to clarify certain information about the victim of the attack.
File image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service