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Clover gets new home

A rare, white kermode bear will have a new home in Kamloops waiting when he wakes up from hibernation this spring.

The rescued male bear named Clover was given to the BC Wildlife Park in 2012 after it became habituated to humans and several attempts to relocate him into the wild failed.

While a black bear would have been destroyed, the province opted to place the white bear in the park.

A Kermode, or spirit bear, is a black bear with a genetic trait that turns its fur creamy white. In 2006, the bear was officially named British Columbia's provincial mammal.

Clover's new home, expected to cost about $700,000, is nearly three acres in size and includes den space, vegetation, two ponds and a creek.

Jeff Putnam at the Kamloops parks department said Clover could have been moved into its new accommodations already had he not opted to take his winter nap early.

"He started lowering his metabolism to get ready for denning quite early this year and staff didn’t want to stress him out," Putnam said.

The city contributed $250,000 this year for the first phase of Clover’s new habitat and another $300,000 is expected from private and corporate fundraising.

The city will supply an additional $150,000 for the second phase of the bear home in 2015, which will include an elevated walkway for visitors to better view the bear habitat, and an interpretive centre.

BC Wildlife Park manager Glenn Grant said the park plans to move at least one female black bear, currently living in another part of the park, into Clover’s habitat for companionship, and they hope to move another female and male in, if space allows.

He said placing the other bears, which vary in colour from very dark black to brown, in the same exhibit will give visitors a better idea of the range of appearances possible for black bears.

"It really gives us an opportunity to tell the story of a whole bear species," Grant said.

"I think Clover’s going to be a huge draw for the park."

The Canadian Press


Thief cried during robbery

A man who broke down in tears while robbing a store told a clerk he needed hot food, cigarettes and money to pay bills, court has heard.

Feroz Buksh of Surrey pleaded guilty in provincial court to one count each of robbery and use of an imitation firearm.

Court heard Buksh, 44, walked into a store in Kamloops on Sept. 19 and asked the clerk for some hot food and 10 packs of cigarettes.

He tried to pay for the items with a pre-paid Visa card, but the transaction was not approved.

“He then opened up his shirt and said, ‘Give me the money in the till. I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it,’” Crown lawyer Chris Balison told court.

“Then he began to cry. He said he was going to use the money to pay for his bills and that he was in the process of a divorce.”

Balison said Buksh took the money and put the cigarettes and food into a bag.

“He ran out of the store and his bag actually broke,” Balison said.

“So, he was running out of the store with things falling from his bag, including the cigarettes.”

Buksh, who had no prior criminal record, was found by police a short time later, hiding in a closet at a home where he’d been staying.

The Crown wants Buksh, a Fiji native whose family came to Canada when he was 12, jailed for 18 months.

However, Judge Stephen Harrison asked lawyers to look into the impact such a sentence could have on Buksh’s status as a permanent Canadian resident.

“Sometimes, matters in criminal court can have a tremendous effect on someone who is merely a permanent resident,” Harrison said of the man who is not a Canadian citizen.

“It can have an impact on whether or not someone is removed from the country.”

Buksh, who is in custody, will be back in court on Jan. 8 to fix a date for sentencing.

The Canadian Press

Counterfeit bills hit Kamloops

Counterfeit US $100 bills have made their way to Kamloops.

RCMP are warning retailers and merchants of two incidents involving the fake bills that were passed.

On Dec. 15 a male entered the Salish Road Esso and made a purchase with a US $100 note, followed by a report on Dec. 16 where a male passed a US $100 bill at Boston Pizza in Sahali.

In both of these reports it was determined, after the fact, that the bill was counterfeit.

A similar description of the male from both businesses leads police to believe that it may be the same suspect. He is described as a first nations male, approximately 5’6” tall, heavy set.

Both of these instances remain under investigation in efforts to identify the suspect.

Merchants are asked to use caution when accepting notes and to utilize any counterfeit detecting tools they have.

Click here for more information on counterfeit detection.

More charges for alleged shooter

Two new charges have been laid against a man accused of shooting a Mountie in Kamloops during a traffic stop.

When 36-year-old Kenneth Knutson appeared in court for a bail hearing on Thursday he learned he now faces six charges.

The new counts are for aggravated assault and possession of a firearm contrary to order in the Dec. 3 shooting of Cpl. Jean Michaud, who is still in hospital recovering from critical injuries.

Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie says Knutson was initially charged with a variety of offences related to the alleged use of a firearm along with an attempted-murder charge.

MacKenzie says the added allegations are that a restricted or prohibited firearm was used, and the aggravating factor can involve an increase in mandatory minimum sentences.

Knutson's bail hearing has now been scheduled for Jan. 15 because he does not yet have a lawyer.

The Canadian Press

Cpl Michaud out of ICU

Kamloops RCMP Cpl. JR Michaud continues to recover after being shot nearly two weeks ago.

Police say Michaud has been moved out of the intensive care unit at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

Michaud, 40, was critically injured during a traffic stop on Batchelor Drive and North River Drive at around 2:45 a.m. Dec. 3.

A day-long manhunt ensued culminating in the arrest of 36-year-old Kenneth Michael Knutson.

Knutson has been charged with attempted murder using a firearm, aggravated assault of a peace officer, possession of a firearm while prohibited, and discharging a firearm with intent to wound, maim, disfigure or endanger life.

Michaud has been in intensive care since the shooting.

He has survived two surgeries.



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