Culled mink infected with the coronavirus have been seen ‘rising’ from their mass graves.
Photographs of a military complex in Holstebro, Denmark, appear to have thousands of minks “resurfacing” after being killed over concerns about the spread of the disease.
Denmark carried out a nationwide cull of all minks after it became clear that the animals carried a mutated strain of Covid-19 that could be more resistant to vaccines.
When images of the infected mink graves were shared online, they were described as “zombies” who looked as if they had come back to life.
In fact, there is a more scientific explanation for the bizarre incident.
Experts say natural gases that form in their stomachs during decomposition and the light, sandy soil used to bury them in the mass graves contributed to the resurgence.
Thomas Kristensen, a police spokesman, told DR, a Danish news outlet: “Gases are formed during decomposition, causing the bodies to swell a little and, in the worst case, push them out of the ground.”
Originally, the minks were buried only three feet deep in the mass graves, but will now be buried under eight feet of soil and the area is guarded to avoid any risk of infection.
The country has tried to control the mink infestations, but outbreaks are still occurring on farms.
As of June, 214 cases of Covid-19 associated with the mink strain of the virus have been identified, with 12 cases identified as a unique variant.
As Europe’s largest producer and exporter of mink fur, the culling will kill as many as 17 million animals and cost the state up to 800 million pounds.
The World Health Organization said in a statementthe Danish mink mutation has “moderately reduced sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies.”
This means there is a chance it could be more resistant to vaccines, but the new strain is still not well understood and more research is ongoing.
But the attempts to push the culling forward met with opposition from politicians, Danish mink farmers.
“We ask to send it (the evidence) over so we can assess the technical basis,” a Liberal Party spokesman told broadcaster TV2 on Wednesday.
“Of course we cannot be the cause of another pandemic. We do not know the professional basis for this assessment and this risk … but the government’s decision is a disaster for industry and Denmark,” said Chairman Tage Pedersen.
The Danish mink farmers’ trade association called it a “black day for Denmark” and said the government’s decision was a death blow to the country’s hide industry.
Opposition to concerns about culling is an overreaction and that it will kill a thriving industry.
Animal rights groups have generally welcomed the move as an end to an industry they call cruel and unnecessary.
France has instituted a similar culling, but on a much smaller scale, killing 1000 animals so far.