Species / International Ovis
Rupicapra rupicapra vercors
In the 2014 Spring issue of Slam Quest (#168), a Special Feature appeared on page 77. Authored by Dennis Campbell, this update stipulated that the geographical area for harvesting a “Chartreuse chamois,” with GSCO designation, would be broadened beyond the recognized confines of the Chartreuse Massif to include the Vercors area just to the south. Dennis’s justification was based on the fact that the Chartreuse and Vercors areas are in very close proximity, especially prior to the more recent building of highways to the west of Grenoble (which now serve as restrictions to the movement of game). He also cited anecdotal evidence told to him by government guides stating that chamois transplants from the Chartreuse to the Vercors had taken place more recently. Thus, the 2014 GSCO classification for the Chartreuse chamois (to include those also taken in the Vercors) was based on a reasonable belief and presumption that the gene pools and phenotypic characteristics from these two areas are very similar and within the normal variations and distributions that would be found within a normal population.
Recent Communications and Suggestions to GSCO:
GSCO has recently received numerous communications from interested hunters and outfitters operating in either (or both) the Chartreuse and the Vercors areas. These communications correctly note that chamois taken in the Vercors should not be called Chartreuse because they are from a different physical location. We note that this is a rational and correct distinction, but the classification and data are silent on the issue of DNA or definitive phenotypic differences. These communications also suggested that the southern end of the Vercors may be accessible to an influx of Alpine chamois from the surrounding mountains, thus the Vercors chamois should not be considered as a separate classification because they are actually Alpine chamois.
Updated GSCO Position:
We considered the merits of the various arguments and data presented to us as well as our own personal perspectives having hunted in the area. Figure 2 shows the new designation for the separate listing of both Chartreuse and Vercors chamois. Yes, we have added a new chamois to the Capra list: it is the Vercors. Figure 2 is an updated satellite image with defined boundaries that follow the same overall boundaries as described in 2014. The region to the south of Grenoble is now designated as the area from which a Vercors may be hunted and registered with GSCO. For those members who previously registered a chamois from the Vercors and called it a Chartreuse, it will now be switched to the Vercors category in our records. Please notify Cameron in our office, and he will change it in your records. If you previously harvested an animal in the Vercors, you may wish to contemplate a hunt in the Chartreuse, or vice versa, because HUNTING IS THE #1 CONSERVATION TOOL.
The above noted designation was done in the absence of any DNA data or other truly discerning scientific data. If such data exist, we are not aware of it. As such, we cannot assign significant differences to these animals other than the GPS locations where they reside. During his hunt in the Vercors in January 2014, Bruce Tatarchuk had the pleasure of speaking with numerous guides from both areas and also a taxidermist in Grenoble who had personally handled over 200 heads amassing from both regions. He was told that distinctions made between oval versus more round horn cross-sections did not seem to be a prevalent or distinct indicator of where the animal was hunted. Similarly, body size and cape coloration did not exhibit significant differences either. Bruce was also made aware of chamois transplants in the area and some popular literature attesting to this process. With respect to the porosity of the southern border of the Vercors to intrusion and mixing with Alpine chamois, we believe it is a distinct possibility. However, if such a process is occurring, then a corresponding argument could be made that chamois from the Chartreuse are also Alpine chamois of recent origin.
We sincerely hope this update will assist our members in planning their upcoming hunts and participating in GSCO’s awards platforms. Should this update cause any personal anxiety, then we highly suggest that the best remedy would be to take a kid hunting or to recruit a young person to the hunting community. Take care and happy hunting.
Primary Scribe: Bruce Tatarchuk
Co-correspondents: Mark Hampton, Ed Yates