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Danes living next to mass mink graves complain of overwhelming smell

Danes living next to mass mink graves complain of overwhelming smell amid legal battle over cull of 17m animals that provide 40% of world’s fur supply

  • Denmark ordered a cull of all 17m farmed mink after animals were infected with coronavirus, the virus mutated, and was then passed back into humans 
  • But operation has been plagued by errors, with mink left strewn across roads 
  • Police had to issue warning after complaints over the smell from mass graves
  • Meanwhile legal battle broke out over whether cull violates the constitution 

Danes living near mass mink graves in Denmark have complained of the smell – as trucks spilled bodies of the culled animals across roads in horrifying scenes.  

Police and medics were this week forced to issue a warning about the smell from mass graves at Holstebro and Karup, where trenches have been dug to deal with the bodies of millions of animals killed amid coronavirus fears.

They were forced to deny that the smell is dangerous to heath, but warned those living in the area and using walking paths that it will be noticeable. 

Meanwhile thousands of dead animals were found along a 12-mile stretch of road, having fallen from a truck on their way to be buried. 

Dead mink were left strewn across a 12-mile stretch of Danish highway on Tuesday after a lorry carrying the culled animals spilled its load

Meanwhile police and medics were forced to issue a statement about the smell coming from mass grave sites after complaints, saying it isn’t dangerous to health

It comes after more of the animals were found along a motorway on Saturday. A truck driver has since been charged with failing to secure his cargo. 

In parliament, a battle broke out over whether ministers even had the legal authority to order the cull – an order they gave last week after it emerged that the animals had been passing a mutated strain of coronavirus to humans.

Food Minister Mogens Jensen was forced to admit earlier this week that he did not have the authority to order the destruction of all mink, including healthy animals.

‘We’ve made a mistake. There is no legal authority to ask mink breeders to slaughter their mink outside the zones [of infection],’ he told network TV2 on Tuesday.

But millions of animals had already been put to death – something farmers had rushed to do after being offered a subsidy to make sure the mink were killed quickly.

Some – whose farms are many hundreds of miles from infected sites – have now stopped the cull, while others vowed to continue, the FT reports. 

Ministers had ordered the cull after coronavirus, which had spread to farm workers, jumped species and infected the minks.

Having entered their bodies it mutated, and then spread back into humans – with at least 12 infections from the new virus detected in the country.

While the new virus is neither more infectious nor more deadly than the current strain spreading among people, it was feared that it could render vaccines currently being developed useless – because they are not designed to work against it.

Denmark ordered farmers to cull their entire stock of mink – 17million animals – after the mammals caught coronavirus, mutated it, and passed it back to humans

Despite millions of animals already being put to death, Danish ministers have been forced to admit that they may not have the legal authority to order the cull

Eager to avoid the risk of invalidating billions of dollars’ worth of vaccine research, Denmark ordered the cull – destroying 40 per cent of the world’s mink fur supply.

Questions are now being asked over whether the industry, which many campaigners view as cruel, should ever be allowed to restart.

On Friday, the cooperative that sells nearly half of Denmark’s mink furs, will “gradually downsize” and shut down over the next two to three years.

Kopenhagen Fur CEO Jesper Lauge said that the discovery of coronavirus infections put the Danish mink industry “in an extreme and unusually difficult situation.”

Kopenhagen Fur employs some 300 people and sells the furs of the farms in its cooperative. 

There are 1,139 mink farms in Denmark, employing about 6,000 people, according to the industry. 

It was unclear how many of the farms would shut down, though their prospects are not good.

Danish farms together account for 40% of global mink fur production and are the world’s biggest exporter. 

Most of the cooperative’s exports go to China and Hong Kong, and it claims to be the world’s largest auction house for furs. Those auctions will continue.

There are fears that the industry – which supplies 40 per cent of the world’s mink fur – may never restart after the co-op which sells half of Denmark’s stock announced plans to close 

Earlier this month, Denmark reported that 11 people were sickened by a mutated version of the coronavirus that had been observed among the mink.  

On Thursday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued new guidance to curb the spread of the coronavirus between minks and humans, warning that the transmission of COVID-19 among animals could speed up the number of mutations in the virus before it potentially jumps back to people. 

The agency said allowing it to spread within minks could have worrisome consequences.

In northern Greece, more than 2,000 minks are to be culled after some of the animals tested positive for the coronavirus.

Athanassios Langas of Greece’s fur breeders’ association said Friday that the animals were tested after the farm’s owners were found to be infected with the virus. 

Some 300 breeders have been tested for the coronavirus, with 10 found positive, he said.

More than 80 farms are located in northern Greece, with more than 1.3 million minks. So far there has been no indication that Greece will cull its entire mink population.

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