#MIHistory – Aug. 24: Rat Bounty

On this day in 1915, the state began paying a bounty on dead rats.

In part, the act reads:

“Every person being an inhabitant of this State who shall kill any black, brown, gray, or Norway rats commonly known as the house rat, barn rat, or wharf rat in any organized township, village, or city in this State, shall be entitled to receive a bounty of 5 cents for each rat thus killed…

“Every person applying for such bounty shall take the heads of such rats, in lots of not less than five, to the clerk of the township, village, or city within which such rats shall have been killed, in state of good preservation, and if satisfied with the correctness of such claim said township, village, or city clerk shall issue a certificate stating the amount of bounty to which such applicant is entitled and deliver the same to said applicant, and destroy the heads of such rats by burning.”

Michigan’s township, village and city clerks are doubtlessly happy that the law was repealed in 2000. However, as recently as 2013, the city of St. Clair Shores considered instituting a $5 bounty on rats. It ultimately decided against it.


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