Denmark's prime minister defends mink cull over Covid concerns

Country's thriving fur industry destroyed after government order last year

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen outside the Court of Fredericksberg, Copenhagen, December 9, 2021, before a commission hearing over her government's decision to cull millions of mink last year. EPA

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen defended her decision to order a nationwide cull across Denmark's mink farms a year ago over coronavirus concerns when she appeared before a commission of inquiry.

The government ordered the cull of about 17 million mink to halt the uncontrollable spread of a mutated variant of the coronavirus

The move all but destroyed a thriving industry recognised in the fashion industry around the world for its high-quality furs.

Prior to the cull, Denmark was the world's second largest producer of mink fur after China.

"We were unfortunately forced to make a decision a year ago about the culling of all mink," she said before entering the court where the commission is sitting. "It was the right decision, and now I will go in and answer the questions."

While Danes broadly approved of Ms Frederiksen's initial handling of the pandemic, the government was thrown into political turmoil when it emerged that there had been no legal basis to order the cull of healthy mink.

Placard-bearing protesters welcomed Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen when she arrived to answer questions at a commission hearing. Reuters.

The incident eventually led to the exit of the agriculture minister and parliament commissioned an inquiry into whether ministers, including Ms Frederiksen, had known that the legal framework was absent.

Outside the court in Copenhagen, protesters carried placards reading "Why is Mette lying?" and "Who controls Mette?"

A specially appointed parliamentary commission has since April been scrutinising the government's decision and all documents related to it, as well as questioning witnesses to dissect the decision-making process.

Mink is the only animal so far confirmed to be capable of contracting Covid-19 and contaminating human beings, which is why it has been under special surveillance during the pandemic.

The commission is due to report its findings in April 2022.

Updated: December 9th 2021, 1:18 PM