Danish authorities cull 126 minks at illegal fur farm

Denmark’s Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) on Wednesday put down 126 minks which were being bred at a North Jutland farm in breach of a current ban on the industry.

A 2020 file photo of a Danish mink farm. Authorities on December 15th culled 126 mink after they were discovered in breach of a current Covid-19-related ban on the fur trade.
A 2020 file photo of a Danish mink farm. Authorities on December 15th culled 126 mink after they were discovered in breach of a current Covid-19-related ban on the fur trade. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Staff from the authority put down each of the animals with an injection, the agency confirmed in a statement.

The farm’s owner has been reported to police.

Mink breeding for the fur trade has been illegal in Denmark since December 29th last year, when a law was passed against it following a mass culling of the animals and the shuttering of the industry due to concerns related to Covid-19 transmission in minks.

The government order to cull the animals was later found to have no legal basis and is currently being investigated by a special commission.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s prime minister faces inquiry over decision to cull minks

Due to the law, it is not legal to own more than five minks.

A station officer at Central and West Jutland police confirmed that animals had been found at the farm.

“The Veterinary and Food Administration came to us with a complaint,” said the officer, Christian Toftemark.

The agency was informed via an anonymous tip. The police and an investigative unit from the food agency subsequently visited seven former mink farm sites in the area. The 126 minks were discovered at one of the farms.

“The minks we found today were being kept in normal mink cages. It is therefore our assessment that the minks were being kept for commercial purposes and therefore illegally. The case has therefore been referred to police for further investigation,” the head of the Veterinary and Food Administration investigative unit, Majbritt Birkmose, said in a press statement.

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Denmark demolishes mink farms three years after controversial shutdown

Authorities in Denmark have begun the ‘largest demolition job in the country’s modern history’ to tear down disused mink fur farms, three years after a government order to cull the country’s captive population of the animals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Denmark demolishes mink farms three years after controversial shutdown

In late 2020, the government ordered all fur farm minks to be destroyed amid concerns about a potential mutation of Covid-19 in the animals.

Most of the farms are located in West and North Jutland, where work has now begun to tear them down, Transport Minister Thomas Danielsen and Food and Agriculture Minister Jacob Jensen said in a joint statement.

“It’s only reasonable that mink farmers and their families can now look forward to a dignified end to an undignified chapter which has had serious consequences for affected families,” the ministers said.

The Building and Property Agency (Bygningsstyrelsen) says the work to demolish the farms is the biggest demolition job seen in modern Denmark.

Some 220 mink farmers have so far applied to have their farms demolished. The agency expects to receive more requests given 1,227 applications have so far ben submitted for the government’s compensation package for mink farmers who lost their businesses to the 2020 order.

Some 90 farms have been inspected with a view to compensation and subsequent demolition.

The farms cannot be demolished until compensation cases with farmers are concluded. Once this process is complete, the farms must be torn down.

Demolition of the farms and removal of rubble will cost an estimated 3.7 billion kroner.

Denmark decided to kill all of its some 15 million minks in November 2020 after studies suggested a variant found in some of the animals could jeopardise the effectiveness of future Covid-19 vaccines.

The measure was rushed through and the mutation found in minks was later deemed extinct.

All breeding was subsequently banned in 2021 and 2022.

However the cull quickly turned into a political nightmare for the Social Democrat government as it later emerged there was no legal basis to impose the measure on farmers.

In July 2022, a commission of inquiry set up to determine responsibility for the affair concluded that Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had made “seriously misleading” statements without having “either the knowledge or the perspective” to judge.

The commission however elected only to reprimand Frederiksen without further consequence.

The ban on mink fur breeding was lifted at the end of 2022.