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Danish authorities bust second illegal mink farm

Danish health authorities said Thursday they had discovered an illegal mink farm, a practice banned after the country controversially culled farmed minks nationwide last year over fears of a new coronavirus strain.

An illustration file photo showing Danish police at a mink farm in October 2020.
An illustration file photo showing Danish police at a mink farm in October 2020. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The find of 230 minks at a farm in northwestern Denmark, along with 60 foxes, follows a similar discovery of 126 minks at another farm last week.

Both owners have been reported to police, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration said in a statement, adding that the minks would be put down.

Formerly the world’s leading exporter of mink fur, Denmark decided to kill all of its 15-17 million minks in November 2020 after studies suggested the variant found in some of the animals could jeopardise the effectiveness of future vaccines.

The Scandinavian country’s parliament later passed an emergency law which banned the breeding of the mammals in 2021, which was then extended to 2022, in a blow to the industry.

The affair has been mired in controversy after it quickly emerged — after the cull was already underway — that the order had no legal basis, leading to the resignation of the country’s agriculture minister.

An agreement was reached retroactively, rendering the government’s decision legal, and the nationwide cull went ahead as planned.

A specially appointed parliamentary commission has since April been scrutinising the government’s decision and all documents related to it, as well as questioning witnesses to dissect the decision-making process.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has defended the decision, telling the commission earlier in December that she believed it was “crucial that we acted quickly”.

A few weeks after the cull in the North Jutland region in northwestern Denmark, where many mink farms were concentrated, the mutation was declared extinct.

READ ALSO: Protestors damage Danish PM’s car during mink hearing

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MINKS

Danish health agency says mink farming poses low Covid-19 risk

A resumption of Denmark's banned mink farming poses little risk of Covid virus variants emerging, the country's public health institute said Tuesday in a report that could lead to the industry's revival.

Danish health agency says mink farming poses low Covid-19 risk

Denmark was the world’s leading exporter of mink fur until it decided in November 2020 to cull all its 15-17 million minks, after studies suggested that a variant found in some of the animals could jeopardise the effectiveness of future vaccines.

Prior to the cull, Denmark was also the world’s second-largest producer of mink fur after China.

The Scandinavian country later banned the breeding of the mammals until the end of 2022, in a blow to the industry.

The Danish public health institute SSI said in its report the risk was low that mink farming would lead to the emergence of variants of concern.

“Overall, the probability can be characterised as low, and is assumed to be significantly less than the probability that these will arise in a world population of 7.9 billion people”, it said.

The report is expected to play a part in the government’s decision later this year on whether to extend or end the ban.

According to Danish news agency Ritzau, 1,243 mink farmers have applied for state compensation for shutting down their farms.

Meanwhile only 15 have applied for compensation for dormant farms, suggesting that most mink farmers do not plan to resume even if the ban is lifted.

The Danish cull led to a political fiasco, when it quickly emerged — after the cull was already underway — that the government’s order had no legal basis, leading to the resignation of the agriculture minister, Mogens Jensen.

An agreement was reached retroactively to make the government’s decision legal, and the nationwide cull continued uninterrupted.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen later testified before a special parliamentary commission that she did not know the decision lacked legal basis.

READ ALSO: One percent of mink breeders apply for money to resume business

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