Now that it's begun to cull as many as 17 million minks, Denmark's government has conceded there's nothing in the law that permits the order. The decision was made after a mutated form of the coronavirus jumped to humans and fears arose that the effectiveness of vaccines could be affected. "It should have been completely clear to us that new legislation was required, and it was not," Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Tuesday in parliament. "I apologize for that." Her government plans to introduce legislation to cover the order, the BBC reports. The government minister over agriculture and the head of the nation's mink breeders association urged farmers to not wait for the new legislation. "I still encourage mink farmers to cooperate ... because now we have to do everything we can for the best of public health," the minister said.
A law professor had called the order illegal, and an opposition leader had said "the government is taking away the livelihood of a large number of people without actually having the legal rights to do so." The US is among the nations that have reported virus infections at mink farms, as is the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Italy. In Sweden, the head of an animal rights organizaton said he doesn't anticipate a similar order in his country, per the Guardian. But he thinks culling the minks is wise to protect the health of humans and animals. For one thing, Benny Andersson said, sick minks are not being treated anyway. "This is a tiny sector, we could easily live without it, given the risk of compromising a vaccine," he said. "We should be shutting down mink farms and culling all the animals." (New lockdown rules are part of Denmark's response.)