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Danish PM 'regrets mistakes' in 2020 mink cull decision

July 1, 2022

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen apologized to mink breeders following the release of a report critical of government actions. But she maintained her stance on the decision to cull millions of minks during the pandemic.

An excavator loads dead mink into a ditch during the cull in Denmark
Denmark culled over 15 million minks early in the COVID-19 pandemicImage: Morten Stricker/Scanpix/AFP

Danish Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen has responded to criticism following the release of a report into the November 2020 cull of more than 15 million minks saying Friday, "I regret the mistakes that have been made."

The commission tasked with investigating the decision to cull the entire mink population in the country published its report on Thursday.

The commission criticized Frederiksen's office for actions that "led to the gross misleading of mink breeders and the public and the clearly illegal instructions to authorities."

In a statement posted on Facebook, Frederiksen said she took the criticism "very, very seriously." 

What did Frederiksen say?

The Danish prime minister began her statement by apologizing to those affected by the cull and acknowledging there had been mistakes.

"I would like to apologize to the mink farmers and their families. I know it has been hard. And the fact that there have been mistakes in the process has made it all the more painful," Frederiksen said.

However, the prime minister said she stood by the November 2020 decision. "For the sake of the Danes' health and our country's reputation and responsibility to the rest of the world, the only solution was to cull the mink. Unfortunately."

The decision garnered a high degree of controversy largely because legislation had only been put in place a month after the cull began.

Frederiksen said it was a time of great pressure and "in the midst of a major crisis, the legal remedy should of course have been in place."

The prime minister said she was pleased that the commission felt that she had "complied with her duty to tell the truth and that I had neither knowledge of nor any intention to mislead."

Decision decimated Denmark's mink industry

At the time the decision was made, Frederiksen said the cull was necessary due to concerns that the animals had become infected with the coronavirus and that it was beginning to mutate.

Up until November 2020, Denmark had been the largest producer of mink fur, but the decision to kill the animals wiped the industry out and resulted in the country's agriculture minister, Mogens Jensen, resigning after facing intense scrutiny over the handling of the crisis.

Frederiksen said it would now be up to her colleagues to decide on what should happen next but that she hoped there would be a level of understanding "that mistakes can unfortunately occur when a government has to deal with a difficult crisis situation for Denmark."

kb/sms (dpa, Reuters)