A Campbell River man is recovering in hospital after he was severely mauled by a grizzly bear at a logging camp on B.C.’s central coast.

The attack happened Wednesday morning southwest of Rivers Inlet at Draney Bay, a remote area just over 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy.

The victim, a senior engineer in his 30s who assesses cut zones, was attacked by the bear while he and four other crew members were in a forested area near the Capacity Forest Management Ltd. site.

Company president Corby Lamb said the crew was prepared with bear spray, but caught unexpected.

“This was a purpose-driven bear, it was there for a reason,” he said. “It actually returned to the crew when they were trying to deal with wrapping up the fellow that was injured, and they had to chase it off a second time.”

Crew members performed first aid on their injured colleague and notified the BC Conservation Officer service of the attack immediately.

The victim was initially airlifted to a hospital in Port Hardy, then transported to Victoria General Hospital. He has since undergone surgery and is now recovering from what are described as major injuries.

“He’s not well. He’s got several serious lacerations of his leg and arm, he’s got a pretty big laceration on his scalp, but luckily the bear didn’t get him by the head,” said Lamb. “He stayed conscious throughout the whole ordeal and he’s going to have some fairly serious recuperating to do.”

Lamb said the crew has been transported, and that the company would provide counselling due to the traumatic nature of the incident.

Conservation officers say it’s a normal time of year for grizzly bears to be coming out of their dens in the region.

It has since deployed a specialized predator attack team to the Rivers Inlet area to investigate. The bear had not been located as of Thursday afternoon.

“We have team members on scene deployed, doing assessments, surveying the area, doing public safety and trying to get some understanding of the bear’s behaviour and what actually took place,” said conservation officer Scott Norris.

He said no decision has been made on what to do with the bear if it’s found. Provincial wildlife biologists have also been dispatched to assess the bear’s behaviour and any risk.

Last year, four people in the province were attacked by grizzly bears, while seven were attacked in 2015, according to the BC Conservation Officer Service.