Denmark passed a law Monday banning mink breeding for a year, following the country’s controversial cull of all the animals over a mutated strain of the coronavirus, according to reports.
The law also contains a provision that if the ban is not respected, the animals will be euthanized, effectively removing a legal challenge that has shaken the government after it ordered all mink culled last month, Agence France-Presse reported.
“The Danish mink breeders have sacrificed their life’s work for the common good. We owe them a big thank you,” Agriculture Minister Rasmus Prehn said on Twitter.
The measure bans mink husbandry until Dec. 31 2021.
Meanwhile, the government announced Sunday that four million mink that were culled over the mutant coronavirus strain will be dug up next year to prevent pollution.
Denmark’s entire population of about 17 million mink earmarked for the high-end fashion industry was ordered to be culled after hundreds of farms suffered coronavirus outbreaks and authorities found mutated strains of the bug among people.
But of the four million animals buried at a military area in western Denmark, some began to resurface from the sandy soil after gasses from the decomposition process pushed the carcasses out of the ground.
If parliament agrees, the carcasses will be dug up and burned in six months’ time once the risk of infection is completely passed, the Agriculture Ministry said, AFP reported.
“This way, we avoid the mink being treated as dangerous biological waste, a solution that’s never been used before,” the ministry said in a statement.
This aerial view shows thousands of killed mink being buried at the Jydske Dragonregiment’s training groundGetty Images
The move by lawmakers Monday retroactively creates the legal basis for its recent order to cull all mink.
Erik Vammen, likely to be one of the last farmers in Denmark with mink on his farm, defied the government’s initial calls for a nationwide cull, but now faces no other option than to put down his remaining 5,000 virus-free mink.
“I will comply with the law, as I’ve always done. I’m keeping my head high,” Vammen, 62, told Reuters, adding that he’d wait until the last moment to cull his mink and that it is likely he’ll pick up mink breeding again when the temporary ban ends.
The new law, which bans mink breeding by Jan. 15, also outlines some compensation for farmers, but lawmakers have yet to finalize specific measures, according to Reuters.
Denmark’s minister for food and agriculture resigned last month after the government admitted it did not have the right to order the culling of all farmed mink without having the necessary legislation in place first.