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When six-year-old Bryce Forbes saw a crouching cougar staring at him in his backyard, his first instinct was to run -- not back to the house, but straight past the cat to grab his little brother.

The pair then made a mad dash into their Gold River, B.C., house, astonishing their parents, who were only a few metres away in a workshop, but far enough away that they may not have been aware if an attack had occurred.

Once inside the house, Bryce used an extension phone to call his parents and tell them about the cat.

Bryce's heroism that day, Easter Monday, earned him a bravery award yesterday from B.C.'s Environment Minister and the admiration and relief of the boy's father.

"They're your kids, of course you're always proud," Cameron Forbes said.

"But at the same time, as a dad, you wish the story was that, you know, you saw the cat and pulled on your cape and went out there and laid a whooping on him and saved your kids.

"But you're just on the other side of the door and there's a cat stalking your boy."

Mr. Forbes said his youngest son Tucker, 5, was playing in the backyard and Bryce was walking into the garage when he heard a noise.

"He just heard something. He looked around, and crouched down coming at him from the back of the vehicle about five feet away was this cougar," Mr. Forbes said.

"Rather than take the three steps and run in the house, he turned and ran, I don't know, another 40 to 50 feet past the cat back outside to get his little brother."

Once Bryce alerted his parents, his dad called the RCMP, who shot the cougar.

Environment Minister Barry Penner travelled to Gold River, about 355 kilometres northeast of Victoria, yesterday to congratulate Bryce on his bravery and offer the boy a B.C. conservation officer's cap and badge.

Cougar attacks on humans are rare, but they do occur in British Columbia.

In 1996, in Princeton in B.C.'s Interior, mother Cindy Parolin was killed by a cougar while protecting her son from an attack.

In 1994, in Gold River, a cougar attacked seven-year-old Kyle Musselman as he walked to school. Kyle was seriously wounded and lost an eye.

Six months later, also in Gold River, the RCMP officer who shot and killed the cougar that attacked Kyle was himself attacked by a cougar while horseback riding. Officer Rick McKerracher was clawed on the leg, but not seriously injured.

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