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Denmark to Dig Up, Dispose of Millions of Dead Mink to Prevent Pollution

© AP Photo / Sergei GritsIn this 6 December 2012, file photo, minks look out of a cage at a fur farm in the village of Litusovo, northeast of Minsk, Belarus
In this 6 December 2012, file photo, minks look out of a cage at a fur farm in the village of Litusovo, northeast of Minsk, Belarus - Sputnik International
A mutated version of the coronavirus found on mink farms spurred Denmark, the world's biggest exporter of mink fur, to carry out a blanket cull of millions of farmed mink in order to prevent further infection. The cull was performed with great haste and sparked political divisions.

A political majority has been reached in Denmark to dig up and destroy approximately 4 million dead mink buried in Karup and Holstebro.

However, to avoid further infection, this will be done in six months' time, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries said. Therefore the excavation of mink will start in late May, and they will be disposed of until mid-July, the ministry writes in a press release.

Food Minister Rasmus Prehn said he is happy with the agreement, but that he would have liked to have it in place faster.

“We would like to give a clear message to the citizens who are neighbours to this unfortunate situation, that these mink are coming up and that there is a plan for it. We are based on the model we are most confident in,” Prehn told the newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

Prehn said that he can understands that locals would rather see the mink dug up and destroyed as soon as possible.

“I'm just as frustrated as these citizens are. If it was up to me, I would already be standing in rubber boots out there, making sure that these mink are dug up,” Prehn said, emphasising the risk of infection.

The agreement on the excavation of the euthanised mink comes, among other things, amid concerns that the buried carcasses could be harmful to the groundwater.

For that reason, the liberal-conservative Venstre Party did not support the agreement, arguing that the mink should be dug up immediately and instead stored in slurry tanks.

Venstre MP Thomas Danielsen of the Environment and Food Committee argued that the preferred variant is “more expensive and more risky”. According to him, the risk of infection with Covid-19 is not a valid argument for waiting several months.

“When you threw the animals into an open field and had them float in landfills and so on, there was no risk. Now you suddenly understand that there is one,” Thomas Danielsen said.

Following the discovery of mutated coronavirus in mink, which could jeopardise efforts to curb the spread of the disease and potentially undermine the efficacy of the vaccines, Denmark decided to cull all of its farmed mink. This resulted in the eradication of an entire industry in the nation that used to among the world leaders in mink fur production.

During the great cull, Denmark gassed over 15 million mink in a matter of several weeks. About 10.5 million of the killed mink were on infected farms or farms within a designated 7.8 kilometre radius of an infected herd.

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