Danish Farmers Are Protesting Government’s Mink Slaughter Policy

The Danish government recently ordered farmers and mink breeders to cull all of their minks, which amounts to over 17 million animals. This action was taken to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the country.

To protest this decision, over 500 tractors drove past the government offices and the parliament in Copenhagen to the port. Some tractors were even decked with the Danish national flag. Another similar protest took place in Aarhus, the country’s second city, with the utilization of around 400 tractors.

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Denmark holds a population of around 5.8 million people. For a number of decades, the country has been the world’s largest exporter of mink fur. A 19-year-old mink farmer named Daniel explained: “It is not fair what has happened to the breeders.” He stated that due to this decision, the whole sector will have to shut down.

mink culling
Source – Reuters

Prime Minister Freder Iksen’s government is well-aware of how culling minks that aren’t contaminated with the virus holds no legal basis. This had infuriated mink farmers and breeders even more. Despite her apology, however, Prime Minister Iksen has stated that this decision is ‘non-negotiable’. Her government is currently preparing legislation to ban mink farming until January 1, 2022.

Like Humans, Mink Are Very Susceptible To COVID-19

Similar to humans, they also can show a range of symptoms, from being asymptomatic to severe conditions like pneumonia. Mink initially became infected by obtaining the virus from humans. However, recent studies suggest that in Denmark and the Netherlands, the virus has been passed from mink to humans, in a small number of cases.

The new strain of the virus is fast-spreading in Denmark. 207 mink farms in Jutland alone are found to be affected, and around five cases of the new strain were discovered. Also, 12 people have caught the new viral strain.

This is the reason why mink farming poses a major concern about public health. A single mutation of the virus while being transferred from mink to humans might be enough to halt the effectiveness of human vaccines if one is found in the future. At this rate, mink farming directly affects the recovery and response process of Denmark to the virus. Therefore, some scientists are even asking for a complete ban on mink production.

mink culling
Teams with protective gear for the cull. Source – AFP

When culling, mink are usually gassed by carbon monoxide.

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