OTTAWA - Using nothing but her quick wit and bare hands, a Canadian mother fought off a cougar that had pinned down her three-year old daughter in a forest north of Vancouver, police said Wednesday.
The child, named Maya, escaped with only superficial wounds after the late Tuesday attack near the town of Brackendale, 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of the western city of Vancouver, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
The girl's father, Pablo Espinosa, told public broadcaster CBC that his daughter thought the wild cat wanted to play. Maya asked "Why didn't the kitty play nice?"Espinosa told CBC.
Maya and her mother, Maureen Lee, were walking on a wooded trail with their dog when the cougar pounced.
"All of a sudden it just flew on her, rolled her a couple of times and grabbed her," Lee told CBC.
"She was on her back and (the cougar) had his paws on her head, and I just knew I had to react quick.
"So I just jumped in there and wedged myself between the cougar and her on the ground," the mother said.
Then, "I just got up and threw it off my back and grabbed (Maya) and (ran)."
Maya suffered puncture wounds to her left arm and head, but was reportedly recovering well.
The same could not be said for the cougar, an adult male, which was tracked down and killed by conservation officers Tuesday night, Vancouver media reported.
Conservation officers used dogs to track down several cougars in the area after more than 30 encounters with the big cats were reported in the past 10 days, the CBC said.