For most of us, fighting off a bear is something that only happens in our dreams. For 80-year-old Norman Ruff, it’s reality.
Bracebridge OPP Detachment Commander Inspector Michael Burton, Constable Samantha Bigley, and Superintendent Laura Houliston gave the Commissioner’s Citation for Bravery on behalf of OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.
According to the OPP, Ruff and his wife were asleep on July 31st, 2019 when he heard a noise coming from the kitchen of his home. Ruff got up to check out what was causing the commotion and found that a medium-sized bear had snuck in through the kitchen window that had been left open overnight.
“We assume the bear was quite startled,” Burton says.
Immediately, Burton says Ruff did the right thing and opened the doors in his house in hopes of coaxing the bear to leave on its own. That didn’t work. All it did was cause the bear to get more agitated.
“Mr. Ruff was between the bear and the bedroom where his wife was at that time,” Burton explains. “He made the decision to protect himself and his wife and basically got into a fight with the bear.”
During that fight, Ruff punched the bear multiple times and eventually got the bear out of his home. “He had large gouges on his chest which he had to get treated for at the hospital afterwards,” Burton says.
The police were called after Ruff arrived at the hospital. “When we received (the call), we thought it was an incredible, incredible story,” Burton says. It didn’t take him – or any of the other officers involved – long to realize they needed to nominate Ruff for the award.
The citation is designed to recognize officers and civilians involved in acts of bravery. Anyone involved with the OPP can nominate a colleague or someone they meet in the line of duty for the award. The police have an award committee that sifts through the nominees and presents a list of worthy nominees to Carrique who makes the final call on who gets the special award.
Burton says he has a backlog of about 30 awards that he plans to hand out over the next few months.