To avoid contaminating the soil, the Danish government has decided to exhume and cremate the millions of minks that were culled and buried after the discovery of a mutation of the virus, which can infect humans.
Poses a serious risk to the environment
After a coronavirus mutation potentially transmissible to humans was identified on a farm in Denmark, millions of minks were destroyed. They were then buried in military land near Holstebro and Karup in the Kingdom of Denmark. However, this decision was criticized because of the inadequate burying of these animals in hastily dug mass graves, which pose a serious risk of contamination to the soil, groundwater, and surrounding lakes. This led to the resignation of Agriculture Minister Mogens Jensen from his post.
Therefore, in a press release on December 20, the government decided to acknowledge that these mass graves are dangerous for the environment. The majority in parliament has decided to exhume the mink within five to six months, as soon as the risk of coronavirus infection has been completely eliminated. The mink carcasses will be incinerated as normal waste. According to the department, “This will prevent mink from being treated as biohazardous waste, a solution that has never been used before.”
Mink Breeding banned until 2022
However, Danish politicians have indicated that the situation is not urgent and that they can therefore wait to recover the remains. Most importantly the environmental authority will be closely monitoring the situation. Denmark is the world’s largest exporter of mink skins and was forced to kill more than 15 million minks in early November. These animals carried a mutation of the virus that was transmitted to 12 humans. Epidemiologist Kåre Mølbak said: “Continuing to breed minks would pose a much greater risk to public health, both in Denmark and abroad.” This version of the coronavirus could have compromised the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine. To date, mink is the only animal identified as capable of contracting Covid-19 disease and potentially infecting humans. As a result, a law that prohibits mink breeding in Denmark until 2022 was passed.