Denmark wants to dig up 'zombie mink' that resurfaced from mass graves

FILE PHOTO: Members of Danish health authorities are assisted by members of the Danish Armed Forces in disposing of dead mink in a military area near Holstebro in Denmark November 9, 2020. Morten Stricker/Dagbladet Holstebro Struer/Jysk Fynske Medier/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark's government said on Friday it wants to dig up mink that were culled to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after some resurfaced from mass graves.

Denmark ordered all farmed mink to be culled early this month after finding that 12 people had been infected by a mutated strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, which passed from humans to mink and back to humans.

The decision led to 17 million animals being destroyed and to the resignation last week of Food and Agriculture Minister Morgens Jensen, after it was determined that the order was illegal.

Dead mink were tipped into trenches at a military area in western Denmark and covered with two metres of soil. But hundreds have begun resurfacing, pushed out of the ground by what authorities say is gas from their decomposition. Newspapers have referred to them as the "zombie mink".

Jensen's replacement, Rasmus Prehn, said on Friday he supported the idea of digging up the animals and incinerating them. He said he had asked the environmental protection agency look into whether it could be done, and parliament would be briefed on the issue on Monday.

The macabre burial sites, guarded 24 hours a day to keep people and animals away, have drawn complaints from area residents about possible health risks.

Authorities say there is no risk of the graves spreading the coronavirus, but locals worry about the risk of contaminating drinking water and a bathing lake less than 200 metres away.

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Peter Graff)

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