Willie J. Parker

  • Willie J. Parker began his career in wildlife law enforcement in 1949 when he was hired as a conservation officer by the Tennessee Game and Fish Commission. His leadership skills soon became apparent and he was promoted to district supervisor. In 1954, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested his assistance with a covert operation at Reelfoot Lake in west Tennessee. He was able to infiltrate a group of market hunters and document illegal sales and interstate transportation of wild ducks. The case was successfully prosecuted in federal court. In 1957 he was sworn in as an agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He was assigned to Louisiana and Kentucky before being named agent-in-charge of Maryland in 1966. The Chesapeake Bay area was known for flagrant waterfowl hunting violations, especially baiting. It also served as the hunting grounds for many of our nation’s wealthy and influential citizens. Service law enforcement efforts had failed due to wide-spread contempt for the law and political pressure. Many good agents had come and gone. During the period 1966 through 1974, Parker conducted an all out campaign to reestablish respect for the laws. He utilized the media-radio, television, and newspapers-to inform the public that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act hunting regulations would be strictly enforced. Then he and four agents proceeded to make hundreds of apprehensions for waterfowl hunting violations. In 1974, Parker was selected as a special agent-in-charge of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and transferred to Nashville, Tennessee. In 1976, he was featured in the April edition of Outdoor Life as ‘The Toughest Game Warden of them All.’ He continued to enforce federal wildlife laws until he retired in 1979. Parker wrote two books about his career – Halt! I’m a Federal Game Warden and Game Warden-Chesapeake Assignment.