The Danish government has ordered mink farms to cull over 1 million animals due to reported outbreaks of coronavirus among the species, prized for its fur.
The outbreak among the mink population was detected in late June after a COVID-19 patient was linked to a mink farm in North Jutland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service said in a report.
As of this month, mink on around 60 farms in North Jutland have tested positive for coronavirus, and an additional 46 farms are under suspicion, Mogens Jensen, the Danish minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, told CNN.
“We have continuously launched initiatives to manage and contain the spread of infection,” Jensen said in a statement.
“In view of the recent large increase, we must unfortunately state that it has not been sufficient to prevent continued spread of infection among the North Jutland mink herds,” he added.
The order mandates that mink farms within five miles of a farm or herd that is confirmed or suspected to be infected with the coronavirus must be culled.
“It is a difficult decision that the government has made, but we fully support it,” said Tage Pedersen, chairman of the Danish Mink Breeders Association.
In Utah, cases of COVID-19 have also been detected among mink farm populations, with state officials reporting that over 10,000 animals have died from the virus.
While officials in Utah said, “research indicates there hasn’t been a spread from mink to humans,” state veterinarian Dean Taylor noted the mink suffered from respiratory issues, similar to human symptoms.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the Danish Emergency Management Agency will handle the process of culling mink in Denmark.
Mink breeders will be compensated for the cost of losing their herd and other operating losses.
Denmark is the world’s largest producer of mink skins, the Danish Agriculture and Food Council reported.
The country has nearly 1,500 Danish fur farmers that produce around 19 million mink skins per year.