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STATE OF DISGRACE: Denmark ‘shaken’ by potential spread of Coronavirus, NOT by mass killing of 17 million animals

Denmark's mass killing of minks has been going on for several weeks, with 2.85 of the 17 million minks already killed. There are some 1,000 mink farms in Denmark, and 4,350 in Europe.

ADRIENNE MURRAY: There was shock last week when Denmark decided to cull all its mink – up to 17 million animals – because of the spread of coronavirus. That national cull has turned into a political outcry, now that the prime minister has admitted the plan was rushed and had no legal basis. Danish authorities worry that a mutated form of coronavirus found in mink could potentially hamper the effectiveness of a future vaccine.

As the politicians argue, mass graves have appeared in the Danish countryside filled with the slaughtered animals… Police and the armed forces have been deployed and farmers have been told to cull their healthy animals too -but the task will take weeks… Denmark’s mink ‘cull’ has in fact been going on for several weeks, with 2.85 million already ‘put down’…

However there’s also concern that Denmark may have overreacted and scientists at home and abroad have tried to assess the risk. While scientists told Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende newspaper that Cluster 5 had not been detected since September, the head of Denmark’s health authority, Soren Brostrom, said the risk was too great when the virus was spreading among the mink population.

The government admitted on Tuesday it lacked the legal framework for a nationwide order and only had jurisdiction to cull infected mink or herds within a safety radius. “It is a mistake. It is a regrettable mistake,” said Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen as she apologised to parliament. The infections have attracted widespread international attention, and prompted the UK to ban travellers from Denmark…

Covid-19 originally came from a wild animal, it was then transmitted to humans and, later, passed on to farmed mink, before jumping back to a small number of humans. Several different mutations have been discovered in the virus in mink that do not arise in humans. But one called “Cluster 5” is of particular concern and 12 people are known to have caught it in Denmark. More than 200 other people have contracted other mink-related strains of the virus…

Denmark is not the first country to report outbreaks on fur farms but it is the world’s biggest producer. Spain, Sweden, Italy, and the US have all been affected, as has the Netherlands, where mink farming will be outlawed by spring next year… Coronavirus outbreaks have already spelled the end of the mink industry in the Netherlands. The UK and Austria banned fur production years ago, Germany has phased it out and Belgium, France and Norway plan to as well.

Across Europe there are some 4,350 mink farms, with Poland, Finland, Lithuania and Greece also part of the sector. Industry group Fur Europe insists demand for natural fur is still strong. “The market has already reacted to next year’s reduced supply with higher pelt prices”… But Danish animal rights groups believe it is time to follow the example of other European countries and phase out the trade completely. “It’s highly unacceptable to treat animals the way that mink are treated in the industry,” says Birgitte Iversen Damm of Animal Protection Denmark…

Denmark is home to more than 1,000 farms, so the head of trade body Kopenhagen Fur has termed the nationwide cull a disaster… The industry had a reported turnover of almost $1bn (£750m) in 2018-19. Furs are sold to the garment industry but also used in some false eyelash products. China and Hong Kong in particular provide the biggest market… Coronavirus outbreaks have already spelled the end of the mink industry in the Netherlands. The UK and Austria banned fur production years ago, Germany has phased it out and Belgium, France and Norway plan to as well. SOURCE…

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