GENEVA 

Denmark’s planned cull of its entire mink population after some animals in the country were found with a mutated version of the coronavirus was in disarray Tuesday after opposition lawmakers and farmers objected to the process.

Under the planned cull, some 17 million animals were to be gassed, burned, or thrown into mass graves due to fears that a COVID-19 mutation that started in Danish mink farms might hinder a vaccine’s development.

Last week, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had issued an order to mink farmers to cull millions of the animals that are valued for their expensive fur, but found that she might not have the votes necessary to pass the emergency legislation through parliament.

She might still try to pass legislation for the cull, which opposition parties and many farmers said lacked sufficient scientific evidence to justify it, according local Nord News.

The country’s Food and Fisheries Minister Mogens Jensen also issued an apology over the confusion stemming from the order saying he had not been informed that there was no legal authority for the cull.

“It is important to state that we should have communicated clearly whether there is the legal authority for the authorities to order the killing of healthy mink herds outside the safety zones,” Jensen said in a written statement.

Farmers had been promised financial incentives by the government to go ahead with the cull rapidly, but Danish media reported that such actions had been halted at the beginning of the week.

Some 2.5 million animals have already been killed, Denmark’s TV2 reported.

The majority of the cases have been detected in the northern part of Jutland, Denmark, the world’s biggest mink fur producer.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the wild European mink among the critically endangered species due to an ongoing reduction in its numbers.

The new version of the virus from minks to humans could adversely influence a future vaccine’s effectiveness, the prime minister had said.

On Nov. 6, WHO’s chief of emergencies Dr. Mike Ryan, said: “We will continue to work with the scientific community to understand the implications of the findings.

“But in the meantime, the Danish authorities have to base their actions on their extent to the virus within that main population, the bio risk management available around that population, and concerns around any health impact in humans.”

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