Species / International Ovis
Ovis gmelini Corsicana-continentis
Southern France in the Alps, Massif Central Mountains and the Pyrénées.
Historically, Mouflon sheep were imported to the Mediterranean Islands (Corsica, Sardinia, Cyprus) during Neolithic times, around 6,000 - 7,000 BC. At the beginning of the 18th century, these mouflons were introduced into several parks and zoos in Eastern and Western Europe and later into free range areas. At first, they were crossbred with domestic sheep and Asian sub-species, to improve the quality of their trophies which resulted to a loss of their Corsican origins. Hence now, they are recognized as European mouflon.
However, starting in 1935 pure Corsican Mouflon from the Island of Corsica have been introduced to several areas in southern France (Alps, Pyrenees and Massif Central). Those mouflons have mostly Corsican Mouflon genetic endowment and, with their habitat relatable to that of their Island of origin, has helped retain a phenotype very similar to that of pure Corsican mouflons. This observation led to the Ovis Grand Slam Club classifying the mouflon sheep of southern France into a separate subspecies as: “French Mainland Corsican Mouflon”.
Details for changes that have been implemented on the recording of trophies previously referred to as “Corsican Mouflon Sheep,” effective April 5, 2022.
GSCO and a group of forward-thinking French outfitters known as the French Outfitters Association (FOA) have entered into a memorandum of understanding to collaboratively develop and launch a new and broad ranging conservation program for mouflon sheep in the southern French mainland. This program is known as the French Mainland Corsican Mouflon Conservation Program. The following discussion provides details and recent changes in GSCO’s recording procedures for mouflon sheep as a result of this new program. GSCO wishes to salute the hunting companies who have participated to date in this effort and understands that still more have joined by the time this message is transmitted to our membership. This new conservation program results from two undeniable facts: 1. Hunting is the #1 Conservation Tool, and 2. GSCO operates a highly successful trophy awards platform which significantly and uniquely impacts both hunting and conservation.
As a number of you are aware, GSCO indefinitely suspended recording of the Corsican mouflon a number of years ago. The reasons for this moratorium were varied but included, among others, the following issues and concerns:
1. The name “Corsican Mouflon” was misleading and problematic, as these sheep occur on the island of Corsica, which does not allow hunting. A more precise reference to the sheep that have been previously recorded by GSCO would be Corsican-influenced mouflon occurring on the French mainland, or French Mainland Corsican Mouflon.
2. There was a high level of disagreement and commercial competitiveness among outfitters and hunting agents as to which relatively small and isolated areas within the southern French mainland either contained purebred descendants originally transplanted from Corsica or those that might be highly influenced by those original transplants but found in adjacent areas.
3. Some purebred Corsican mouflon originally imported from Corsica to the mainland were being bred and harvested within one or more enclosures and GSCO only records free-range harvested trophies.
4. Some of the free-range areas in the southern French mainland that were the original site(s) for transplants from Corsica did not have sustainable hunting populations at the time of the moratorium. Government established hunting quotas for these game management units often comprised zero or just a few annual tags due to low populations. The causes for these low populations were attributed primarily to wolf predation and poor free-range habitat. A general feeling was also expressed by those close to the situation that there was a general lack of awareness for the plight of these sheep as well as a lack of appreciation for their trophy status. Thus, their relegation to the category of “wolf bait.”
A FORWARD LOOKING & PROACTIVE SOLUTION
Working with a group of French outfitters known as the French Mainland Corsican Mouflon Outfitters Association, or FOA for short, GSCO and this group decided to establish a collaborative hunting and conservation program to benefit the mouflon of the southern French mainland as described below.
1. The name of the Corsican influenced mouflon sheep occurring in the southern French mainland will henceforth be recorded by GSCO as the FRENCH MAINLAND CORSICAN MOUFLON (Ovis gmelini Corsicana-continentis). GSCO will transfer previously recorded Corsican mouflon trophies into this new category. The prior category of Corsican mouflon will no longer exist.
2. Future trophies of the French Mainland Corsican Mouflon must be harvested within the region shown on the attached map using the services of an FOA member outfitter. GSCO adopted this position due to the significant on-the-ground conservation practices (see discussion below) that the FOA is putting into place within this region. And the FOA agreed to work with and include other outfitters into the FOA, so long as they also agree to provide the same contributions to mouflon conservation. The FOA will be primarily French led and will be administered and governed according to the laws of France. FOA membership shall be actively monitored for adherence to its membership and participation requirements (by the FOA) and the FOA will notify GSCO should a new member join or a membership lapse or be removed.
3. The current active members of the FOA are listed below and the general membership of participating French outfitters is anticipated to grow. The main contact address for the FOA is also listed. A hunter should inquire whether their outfitter is currently an active member of the FOA or not. The point contact for the FOA will keep GSCO and others informed as to the active membership rolls.
Primary FOA Contact Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Current FOA Members:
A. Jean-Pierre Bernon (Club Faune) [President and Designated Point Contact for the FOA to GSCO], email@example.com
B. Jerome Latrive (GP Voyages), firstname.lastname@example.org
C. Alexandre Houlette (France Hunting Adventure), email@example.com
D. Constant Boulard (Constant Boulard International Adventures), firstname.lastname@example.org
E. Thierry Fecomme (JF Hunting), email@example.com
Honorary member is a category of membership reserved for qualified and reputable booking agents who would be using the services of an FOA active member. Seminal in the formation of the FOA and a current honorary member is:
A. Bo Morgan (Go with Bo) firstname.lastname@example.org .
Other honorary members may be added or removed based upon FOA recommendations and supported by one or more active FOA members.
4. To record a French Mainland Corsican Mouflon, the GSCO member-hunter must not only submit a field photo of the trophy and a hunt report as usual, but also a photo of the harvest tag showing the number on that tag. The tag number identifies the region of harvest. The FOA has agreed to review these tag numbers and notify GSCO if they are appropriate for recording within GSCO’s French Mainland Corsican Mouflon category. This consideration will include free range animals only, and also whether or not the hunter has submitted a $4,000 USD Conservation Contribution to the FOA to become a supporting member and sponsor for the FOA’s French Mainland Mouflon Conservation Program. In addition to fees that the FOA will charge its Active Members, these Conservation Contributions will be used to fund the Conservation Program.
5. Mouflon taken with outfitters who are not active or current members of the FOA anywhere in France will still be eligible to be recorded by GSCO as European Mouflon. However, GSCO members cannot record both a French Mainland Corsican Mouflon and a European Mouflon from the affected region (regardless of the FOA status of the outfitter).
6. Previous entries submitted to GSCO during the time period in which the moratorium was in place (until April 5, 2022) may be resubmitted to GSCO. These applications will be considered within the French Mainland Corsican Mouflon category on a case-by-case basis by the GSCO Trophy Records Committee. The FOA has agreed to serve as a subject matter expert on all French Mainland Corsican Mouflon entry applications submitted to GSCO.
THE FRENCH MAINLAND CORSICAN MOUFLON CONSERVATION PROGRAM
Beyond their own founding, administration and annual membership fees to be part of the FOA, the active members of the FOA will help to implement broader mouflon conservation practices enabled by their collective efforts as well as the conservation contributions provided by GSCO members (i.e., FOA supporting members). The FOA will establish a corporate entity to house the activities of the FOA. The FOA and its field activities will be primarily French led and governed. GSCO will have no legal standing or administrative responsibilities within the FOA, but the FOA will provide reports to GSCO regarding the status of the French Mainland Corsican Mouflon Conservation Program and the current status of its membership and finances.
The region shown on the French Mainland Corsican Mouflon map is significantly larger than the small areas of the original transplants and therefore has the potential to positively enhance the health and vitality of mouflon sheep in far greater numbers (perhaps 100 or more sustainable tags) than contemplated previously. This is in recognition of the transplant history for these regions, and in doing so, there is a real opportunity to positively influence the perspective in which French mouflon are regarded. Greater value means greater associated conservation efforts and a potential culture change in both perspective and outcome. GSCO will also be auctioning French Mainland Corsican Mouflon hunting opportunities at its annual convention to help promote this new hunting-conservation model, so pay close attention for those.
The FOA will:
1. Establish and promulgate a hunting and conservation culture favorable to mouflon.
2. Engage in rotary mulching of grasslands and feeding areas favorable and frequented by mouflon.
3. Create saltworks and medicinal mineral supplements.
4. Protect mouflon from wolf predation in partnership with the French Agriculture Ministry and Environmental Ministry.
5. Conduct regular population counts and surveys to monitor programmatic progress.
6. Reintroduce Corsican mouflon from high fence areas of the Cadaraches into free-range areas of the affected region to enhance the endowment of the Corsican mouflon gene pool.
THE BOTTOM LINE
GSCO is not an organization with a high operational overhead nor a penchant for claiming the credit or the impact for the efforts of others. Thus, we wish to salute the sincerity of our conservation colleagues in the FOA and their willingness to be forward thinking first movers who agreed to agree with unanimity from the outset, and who so clearly endeavored to place CONSERVATION FIRST.
For its part, GSCO is a premier trophy records keeping organization with global reach and a highly leveraged impact on conservation initiatives and practices because HUNTING IS THE #1 CONSERVATION TOOL. Look for more reports and exciting news about the French Mainland Corsican Mouflon Conservation Program in future issues of Slam Quest and also GSCO’s unique capacity to foster other such positive endeavors, collaborations and outcomes.