Denmark incinerates minks culled over virus fears

All 15 million Danish minks were killed after they were found to be carrying a strain of the virus that experts feared might stave off vaccines

Denmark began the gruesome task of digging and burning minks on Thursday that were hastily buried following a mass annihilation sparked by fears of a mutant strain of coronavirus.

All 15 million Danish mink were killed last year after they were found to be carrying a strain of the virus that experts feared might stave off vaccines.

Some were buried in two mass graves in western Denmark in November, raising fears that their crumbling carcasses could pollute the surrounding areas.

The government asked them to be dug up and burned once the risk of contagion wore off.

On Thursday, teams began digging up some of the 13,000 tons (29 million pounds) of mink carcasses that were to be excavated and were then transported to the nearby Maabjerg Energy Center (MEC) for incineration.

“I’m relieved to see how things are going according to plan,” said Agriculture Minister Rasmus Prehn in a post on Twitter.

The MEC warned that carcasses in the area could emit a foul odor during transport and unloading. However, if they are incinerated at a high temperature, the odor should be eliminated as soon as they reach the incinerators.

Denmark was the world’s largest exporter of mink fur before killing its entire mink population last year after some were found to be carrying a mutated variant of the coronavirus.

Health officials feared that vaccines might not work against the so-called Cluster 5 variant, which was declared wiped out in November.

The government banned mink breeding until January 2022 but has come under fire for its culling program.

After the mass gassing program began, a judicial challenge to the decision found that the executive’s decision had no legal basis, leading to the resignation of the previous Minister of Agriculture.

In addition to the scandal, it was later discovered that the disposal of the dead animals could lead to the release of phosphorus and nitrogen into the soil around the mass graves due to the decomposition process.

In a dire turn of events, a mass grave saw dead minks that had been buried too shallow rise from the ground.

Mink is the only animal that has been confirmed to be able to contract the trunk and pass it on to humans.

The EU calls for regular virus tests in mink farms

© 2021 AFP

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