Mink cull puts Denmark's government in legal pinch

FILE PHOTO: Dead minks are seen at Sydvestjysk Pelscenter where they are pelted, in Varde, Denmark, November 7, 2020. John Randeris/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark’s plans to cull all 17 million mink in the country following the finding of a mutated coronavirus strain among them, are facing legal obstacles after the government admitted it did not have legal basis for the order.

Authorities initiated the cull last week, saying the new strain could move to humans and evade future COVID-19 vaccines so the mink herd, one of the world’s biggest, needs to be eliminated.

On Tuesday the minority Social Democratic government will put forward hastily-drawn up legislation to back the cull but the opposition has said it would not allow the draft to bypass the usual 30 day legislative process.

Opposition parties say the cull of healthy mink should not have been initiated before plans were in place to compensate the owners and workers at some 1,100 mink farms.

Asked for comment, Environment and Food Minister Mogens Jensen said the government regretted the lack of clarity.

“We should have clearly communicated whether there is legal basis for the authorities to order the killing of healthy mink herds outside the safety zones,” he said in an emailed statement to Reuters late on Monday.

“I regret that has not been the case here.”

The government has said farmers would be compensated and that it would continue to seek to have the legislation passed as soon as possible.

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