Culling the Danish mink

It is a story that has gotten some traction in international media, but which might have been overlooked by people focused on the US election.

The Danish government has ordered the culling of all mink in Danish mink farms.

Denmark is the biggest mink fur producer in the world, so this is a multi-million dollar industry that is getting wiped out.

The reason for the decision, which I am sure wasn’t taken lightly, was that the mink poses a health care risk – more precisely, they are a source of new mutations of the corona virus – some with worrying characteristics. Or as BBC explains it:

Mink kept in large numbers on mink farms have caught the virus from infected workers. And, in a small number of cases, the virus has “spilled back” from mink to humans, picking up genetic changes on the way.

Mutations in some mink-related strains are reported to involve the spike protein of the virus, which is targeted by some, but not all, vaccines being developed.

“If the mutation is on a specific protein that is being currently targeted by the vaccine developers to trigger an immune response in humans then it means that if this new virus strain comes out of the mink back into the humans, even with vaccination, the humans will start spreading it and the vaccine will not protect,” Dr Peyre told BBC News.

While the culling is going on, the region of Denmark where the strain has been observed in humans, has been shut down. People have to stay in their municipalities, avoid gatherings, and all bars, restaurants and cafés have been closed. An effort to test everyone in the region (approximately 280,000 people) has begun.

Some politicians in the Danish parliament, especially those in opposition to the government, has questioned whether the measures are necessary, but it is worth noticing that the only scientist in the Danish parliament, Stinus Lindgreen, has come out in clear support of the measures, stressing the need to react quickly to ensure this doesn’t turn into a greater problem.

Currently, there is negotiations going on about how to compensate not only the people directly affected, but also people who are indirectly affected by the culling and the shut down of the region.



  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Will the cullers harvest the skins and sell them, thereby flooding the market temporarily before prices rise astronomically?

    If this had happened in Sweden, would Stockholm have ordered the farmers to release all their animals across the country?

  2. kestrel says

    This is potentially terrifying – if it happened once, it could happen again. I think they are right to jump on it even though it is really devastating to an entire industry.

    I do really feel for the farmers. I raise chickens and occasionally there is an outbreak of some disease or other and certain parts of the country have had to do something similar to these measures. It’s got to be grim for the farmers and super hard if your own animals don’t appear to be sick or seem fine.

  3. DrVanNostrand says


    One of the fascinating things I learned from reading ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’ was how many devastating human pandemics had origins in domesticated animals. We create societies with crazy population density, and raise animals with crazy population density, and the result is a massive opportunity for deadly zoonotic pathogens. I’m just happy they identified the threat and acted responsibly. If something like this happened in the US under Trump, he’d probably ignore it because he doesn’t believe coronavirus is bad, or that government regulation is ever good.

  4. says

    Pierce, the skin are going to be destroyed, as there are some indication that the virus can spread through the furs. Also, I believe, this is standard procedure.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Kristjan Wager @ # 6 – Yeah, I guess there’s no way to skin any such animal without exposure to blood, so they’d all go straight to incinerators.

    I hope this leads to systematic testing of all intensely-farmed animal populations, as well as wildlife close to human populations.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    A local wingnut just now sent me a summary of a YT vid revealing the conspiracist take on all this:

    NIGHTMARE OF PERPETUAL COVID LOCKDOWNS UNDER BIDEN (PT.2) — FRAUD: “Infected” Mink Strewn in Streets as Denmark Plans to Kill Pets – As Danish politicians promise to kill off HOUSE PETS due to a new mutation of COVID-19, officials are killing millions mink — and you will NOT believe how they are disposing of these bodies infected with the “most dangerous pandemic ever.” Christian exposes the lies of the technocrats in the Ice Age Farmer broadcast.

    If you really want the URL, just ask.

    Why haven’t you ever posted pics of your pet mink?