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COVID Threatens to Wipe Out One Nation's Huge Mink Industry

Denmark will cull at least 2.5M animals because of a coronavirus outbreak on farms
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 12, 2020 11:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Danish veterinarians and farmers have begun culling at least 2.5 million minks in Denmark after the coronavirus showed up in at least 63 farms. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is handling the culling of the infected animals, while breeders who have noninfected minks on a farm within 5 miles of an infected farm must euthanize the animals themselves, per the AP. "We are moving forward, we are getting it done," said Flemming Kure Marker of the Danish food agency. The culling began last week in the village of Gjoel, west of Aalborg. On Friday, a mink farmer refused to let authorities enter his farm to cull the animals, and police had to cut a padlock to gain entry. Over the weekend, a handful of protesters were removed outside two mink farms.

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The administration said breeders with noninfected minks will get 100% compensation, while those with infected animals will receive less as an incentive for farmers to keep the infection out of their herds. Denmark is among the largest mink exporters in the world and produces an estimated 17 million furs per year. Kopenhagen Fur, a cooperative of 1,500 Danish breeders, accounts for 40% of the global mink production. Most of its exports go to China and Hong Kong. The coronavirus pandemic could "threaten the entire profession," said Tage Pedersen, chairman of Danish Fur Breeders Association. "All breeders are right now in a huge amount of uncertainty and frustration over this 'meteor' that has fallen on our heads." Scientists are still digging into how the minks got infected and if they can spread it to people. Some may have gotten the virus from infected workers.

(Read more Denmark stories.)

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