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Thousands of mink culled over COVID fears rise from a mass grave in Denmark

Order to cull millions of mink canceled
Danish government stops order to cull millions of mink over COVID-19 mutation 00:31

Copenhagen — A rushed cull of Denmark's mink over concerns about a coronavirus mutation has left the country facing a new horror, as cadavers of the animals re-emerge from the earth. The macabre phenomenon was observed in a military training field outside the western town of Holstebro, where thousands of mink had been put into an improvised mass grave.

The carcasses rose to the surface, lifted by pressure from gases released by the decomposition, according to local police.

The environment ministry said mink should be covered by at least five feet of soil, but according to public broadcaster DR they were only buried about three feet deep in the field outside Holstebro.

Thousands of killed mink are buried at Jydske Dragonregiment's training ground at Noerre Felding near Holstebro
Thousands of mink are buried at Jydske Dragonregiment's training ground at Noerre Felding near Holstebro, Denmark, November 12, 2020. Morten Stricker/Ritzau Scanpix/REUTERS

"The authorities are playing with our environment and using it as a dumping ground," Leif Brogger, a local politician, told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Adding to the frustration, the animals were buried too close to a lake, raising fears of phosphorus and nitrogen pollution, though officials have promised to fix the situation.

The ministry insisted the minks' escape from their tomb was a "temporary problem tied to the animals' decaying process."

"To avoid potential problems for animals and humans the area will be monitored 24 hours a day until a fence is put up," said the ministry.

Photos and videos of the ghastly sight set social media abuzz, with one Twitter user dubbing 2020 "the year of the zombie mutant killer minks."

Caged minks are seen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at a mink farm in Gjoel, North Jutland
Employees from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the Danish Emergency Management Agency in protective equipment are seen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at a mink farm in Gjoel, North Jutland, Denmark, October 8, 2020.  Ritzau Scanpix/Henning Bagger/REUTERS

In early November, Denmark — which is the world's largest exporter of mink fur — announced it would cull all of the country's more than 15 million mink after a mutated version of the novel coronavirus was discovered and believed to jeopardize the effectiveness of future vaccines.

Two weeks after having issued the decree — while in the middle of political crisis over the legality of the decision — the government concluded last week that the potential threat to human vaccines was "very likely extinguished," in the absence of any new cases of the mutated version.  

More than 10 million mink have already been culled in the Scandinavian country, according to the latest tally.

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