A dead rat might not be worth a rat's whisker in Lapeer County soon, or even the 10-cent bounty allowed by an obscure Michigan law.

The 1915 law provides the bounty to anyone who kills a rat and turns it over in a state of "good preservation" to their municipal clerk. The clerk is to burn the rat's head and authorize payment through the county.But the law also allows county boards of commissioners to rescind the bounty, a move that Lapeer County Clerk Mary Ellen Thick said could happen soon.

The bounty law surfaced recently during the celebration of Marathon Township's 150th anniversary of incorporation.

Township Clerk Laura Ring recalled receiving an anonymous letter in 1985 from a resident who said he had killed 76 rats and wanted to know whether he had to cut off their heads before receiving his $7.60 bounty.

"I went to the board meeting wearing surgical gloves that month," Ring said. "I actually had visions of a sack of rats appearing on the front doorstep."

But the rat slayer never has come forward.