Conservation officers are calling it a once-in-a-lifetime sight.

A Lake Cowichan man captured an intense battle in the backcountry between two of B.C.’s most fearsome predators: a cougar and a wolf.

Rod Mizak was driving down a logging service road near Cowichan Lake with a friend at around 3 a.m. on May 21 when he stumbled upon the incredible scene.

“At the beginning we weren’t sure what was going on,” he said. “We realized quite quickly it was a cougar and a wolf…It took a minute for us to pick up our jaws off our laps.”

The two animals were locked in the heat of battle and didn’t even notice his vehicle, Mizak said.

“The cougar was on its back. The wolf and cougar were both locked on [to each other’s] faces, and the wolf had the upper hand,” he said. “Then the wolf decided to let go and the cougar made one leap, and nailed the wolf right between these little trees.”

That’s when the deadly cat made its move, clamping down on the wolf’s neck with its powerful jaw – and delivering the killing blow.

“The crunch of the spine, the first initial hit. I relive it still. It was just the most incredible instance I ever could imagine,” Mizak said.

Steve Ackles, a conversation officer in Port Alberni, said Mizak was in the right place at the right time to witness such a rare encounter.

“Two of the most elusive animals in our wilds in B.C. To see that or get a photo of that…is quite unreal,” he said. ““He should go buy a lottery ticket.”

Ackles said it’s surprising because cougars are usually cowardly and prey on smaller or more helpless animals like deer, racoons and feral cats.

“But to attack an animal that can actually fight back, that is another predator, is pretty rare.”

Mizak suspects that the animals were fighting over some sort of game.

He left the site before the cougar, and when he came back later, he said both the cougar and the body of the wolf were gone.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Jett Bassi