The move comes amid fears of a health risk after mink carcasses have risen from the ground, pushed by decomposition gases.
Denmark will exhum millions of mink from mass graves after some carcasses resurfaced from a slaughter last month, raising concerns about the health risks.
Authorities ordered the entire Danish herd of around 15 million mink – which are bred for their furs and prized in the high-end fashion industry – to be destroyed in early November after a mutated form of the novel coronavirus had taken hold. been transmitted between animals and humans.
As a result of the slaughter, four million animals were hastily buried in mass graves at military sites near Holstebro and Karup in western Denmark.
Authorities said there was no risk of the graves spreading the new coronavirus, but local residents have expressed concerns that the carcasses could contaminate the drinking water supply and a swimming lake unless 200 meters (650 feet) from mass graves.
These fears were heightened after hundreds of mink carcasses recently resurfaced from the region’s sandy soil as gases from the decomposition process pushed them out of the ground.
Amid the crisis, the Danish government said on Sunday it had secured parliamentary support to dig up carcasses buried in military areas, according to a statement from the Food and Agriculture Ministry.
The exhumation will begin in May of next year when the risk of infection has passed. The remains will be trucked to nearby waste incinerators and incinerated.
“This way we prevent mink from being treated as biohazardous waste, a solution that has never been used before,” the ministry statement said.
The Danish government has previously admitted that it has no legal basis for slaughter, which has also resulted in the death of healthy animals. The country’s agriculture minister was forced to resign following the fiasco.
Denmark is the world’s largest exporter of mink fur, with its skins in great demand due to high breeding standards.
The country’s farms account for around 40 percent of total world production, with most exports going to China and Hong Kong.
About 6,000 people are employed in the industry nationwide. However, the industry is expected to be put on hold by a bill banning mink farming until 2022, which is expected to become law on Monday.