A rushed cull of Denmark’s minks owing to concerns about a coronavirus mutation has left the country facing a further horror, as bodies of the animals re-emerge from the earth.
The macabre phenomenon was observed in a military training field outside the western town of Holstebro, where thousands of culled mink had been put into an improvised mass grave.
The carcasses rose to the surface because of pressure from gases released by the decomposition, according to local police.
The environment ministry said mink should be covered by at least 150cm (5ft) of earth. However, they were only buried under 100cm in the field outside Holstebro, said the public broadcaster DR.
Leif Brogger, a local politician, told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper: “The authorities are playing with our environment and using it as a dumping ground.”
Adding to the frustration, the animals had been buried too close to a lake, prompting fears of phosphorus and nitrogen pollution, although officials have promised to fix the situation.
The environment ministry said rising remains was a “temporary problem tied to the animals’ decaying process”.
“To avoid potential problems for animals and humans the area will be monitored 24 hours a day until a fence is put up,” it added.
Photos and videos of the emerging bodies have set social media abuzz, with one Twitter user calling 2020 “the year of the zombie mutant killer mink”.
In early November, Denmark – which is the world’s largest exporter of mink fur – announced it would cull all of the country’s more than 15 million mink after a mutated version of the coronavirus was discovered and believed to jeopardise the effectiveness of future vaccines.
Two weeks after having issued the decree – while in the middle of political crisis over the legality of the decision – the government concluded last week that the potential threat to human vaccines was “very likely extinguished”, in the absence of any further cases of the mutated version.
More than 10 million mink have already been culled in the country, according to the latest tally.