Aww, look at the cuddly mink with its soft fur, webbed toes, and pointy little nose. Doesn’t it just make you want to . . . shut down your country?
In Denmark it does. Minks in the northern part of that nation caught a mutated form of the coronavirus. Like other viruses, the coronavirus can change as it passes from person to person, from person to animal, or from animal to person. There’s no proof the mutated virus poses a greater threat to people than the original strain. Still, there is proof people are catching “mink-rona.” This fall, at least 11 people were sickened with the new strain. Lawmakers acted fast, canceling events, halting public transport, and closing borders. And they made a difficult order: All 15 million minks on mink farms in Denmark had to be culled—killed off for the sake of public health.
The government had announced the cull despite not having the right to order the killing of healthy animals. That embarrassing misstep caused officials to scramble to build political consensus. Soon a majority in Parliament backed the decision to cull mink.
Meanwhile, the nation’s mink farmers were hearing the death-knell for their livelihoods. Danes value their minks—both for the creation of luxurious fur garments and for the animals’ fat reserves. Mink oil is useful as a biofuel and a component in cosmetics and waterproofing agents.
“I do not think there is a mink profession in the future,” says mink breeder Frank Andersen. “I hope that they have evidence behind (their claim) and that it is the right decision.”
Denmark sells more mink fur from its 1,139 mink farms than any other country in the world. Most of this fur exports to China and Hong Kong, where the luxury fur craze—which has lost popularity in other parts of the world—continues.
We know the exact identities of the first people to wear animal skins: Adam and Eve. After these two sinned and realized they were naked, God mercifully covered their shame with clothes made from animal skin. (Genesis 3:21) People have used animal skins and furs to cover themselves since that day—first from necessity and later to show off wealth. Eventually, people started farming soft animals just for their fur. Furs became more affordable.
Today, many people cringe at the idea of raising an animal just to kill it for its fur. The mink problem in Denmark is a modern version of an age-old old dilemma: How can we care for people and animals at the same time?