Dedicated to Conservation

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1998

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

Near the turn of the century, concerns about Missouri's dwindling wildlife resources were coming to a peak. Many cities and counties already had placed local ordinances on the books dealing with hunting seasons and bag limits. What they failed to do was make any serious effort toward enforcing those rules.

The same was true on the state level. In 1895, the first state fish and game office was created, and Jesse W. Henry was appointed as the first state fish and game warden. However, the state failed to appropriate any operating funds or pay any salaries. And so it went for several years.

The Walmsley Act of 1905 was Missouri's first organized effort to protect and manage our fish, game and forestry resources. The act created the Missouri Game and Fish Department and provided it with funding and personnel.

The old department operated for 31 years. Several hundred different faces came and went, most of them working diligently to protect the resources and educate the public about the need to do so. One of these was Charles P. Palmer, a quiet cornerstone in the foundation of what we know today as the Missouri Conservation Department.

Charles P. Palmer was born Nov. 10, 1879, and raised on a northeast Boone County farm between the communities of Centralia and Sturgeon. Palmer attended Central College in Fayette for four years and went on to receive a law degree from the University of Missouri in 1902. Because he did not wish to be in an office or court room all day, every day, Mr. Palmer never became a practicing attorney and returned to the family farm to work the land, keep livestock and raise wildlife.

He married in 1904 and, during that same year, purchased a pair of Virginia white-tailed deer. Deer were not common in north Missouri, so the fact that they were being raised on the Palmer farm was known throughout that part of the state. He sold a few to local restaurants and a few to zoos and, in a short time, the demand grew to the point that he could not fill all requests.

Palmer also sold deer to game reserves in Virginia, Missouri, Kansas and even New York. "Every state seems to be interested in retaining what little wildlife there is left," he once said. "I believe I would be safe in saying that within a few years, there will be enough deer in Missouri so

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