Denmark, which culled more than 15 million minks because of a mutated form of Coronavirus, has decided to dig up the animal remains from their mass graves.
The government said that almost four million dead minks will be exhumed. The operation will take place in May when the officials say the risk of Coronavirus contamination from the dead minks will have passed.
Some of the slaughtered minks, buried in mass graves in a military area in the west of Denmark, soon began to resurface from the sandy soil after phosphorus and nitrogen gases from the decomposition process pushed the animals upwards, and out of the ground.
There are two burial sites that are highly controversial and local residents have complained about the potential contamination risk. While one of the sites is situated near a bathing lake, the other one is not very far from a source of drinking water.
The Plan of Action
In a statement by the ministry of food and agriculture, the officials said that the Denmark government had gained support in the parliament to conduct the excavation program in 2021.
The ministry also said in the statement which was published on Sunday, December 20 that after the culled minks are no longer contaminated with the Coronavirus caused disease, "they will be transported to an incineration facility, where they'll be burned as commercial waste" in six month's time.
Even though authorities claimed there was no risk of the graves spreading the COVID-19, local citizens have complained about the risk of contaminating drinking water and a nearby lake. According to the ministry, the danger of pollution was not urgent, and the environmental authority of the country is following the situation closely, allowing the delay in digging up the dead minks until May next year.
Denmark is the world's top mink exporter. The authorities decided to slaughter the entire stock of millions of minks due to a mutant SARS-CoV-2 strain that could threaten the effectiveness of vaccines. But according to experts, mutations should not worry people, as vaccine developers expected that such mutations could happen, and keeping that in mind, they have designed the vaccines against the COVID-19.
However, Denmark said on November 19 that the "cluster 5" mutation had been wiped out and confirmed that minks are the only animals that are capable of contracting the strain, as well as passing it to the humans.
But the decision made by the government caused a political crisis when it turned out that the authority has no legal basis for the cull. Then Danish Agriculture Minister resigned amid criticism for ordering the slaughtering of minks and Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen apologized in tears. Now Denmark is waiting for a bill to become law that would ban mink husbandry until 2022.