Denmark’s mink cull

Denmark chooses to cull almost 17 million minks after concerns about new strain of coronavirus

Photo by Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty.

— 2 minute read — By Sophia Grace

The discovery of a mutated form of the coronavirus at over 200 mink farms has prompted a cull of nearly 17 million mink in Denmark. Mink are popular for their valuable fur and are crammed together at fur farms ready for skinning. 

There was some outrage at the culling of the creatures and Jakob Ellegaard-Jensen, the leader of the opposition Venstre party criticised the government’s decision stating there was “no legal basis to kill the animals and destroy the industry”.

Dr. Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe said “the mink farms are a reservoir where the coronavirus is thriving”, pointing towards the animals’ cramped and unhygienic living conditions.

Officials have said that the virus spread from humans to mink, mutated and spread back to humans. As we are aware that the coronavirus originally spread from an animal to humans the mink mutation is not surprising. 

Ontario Veterinary College professor Scott Weese explained that “viruses don’t automatically work their way into cells, they need something to stick onto… this virus attaches well to mink”.

The decision by the Danish health authorities to cull the mink in the North of Denmark was made due to 12 cases which could in turn lead to a less effective vaccine. 

After the culling, the mink began to resurface from their graves. They were pushed out of the ground by gas being emitted from their decomposing bodies. This unfortunate situation has prompted the Danish government to cremate the corpses instead as there were concerns of the virus spreading from the shallow graves. 

Although it was originally thought that only mink in Denmark had the mutation, it was later found that at least two mink farms in northern Greece were found to be hosting coronavirus. The WHO is working with local health authorities to assess and diffuse the situation and its risks.