Denmark has begun culling at least 2.5 million minks after coronavirus was reported in at least 63 farms in the north of the country.
Mink, bred for their silky, luxurious pelts, are particularly susceptible to the deadly virus and research suggests they can transfer Covid-19 to humans.
The culling started on Thursday in the village of Gjoel, west of Aalborg, and could last months depending on the spread of the virus.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is handling the culling of the infected animals while breeders who have non-infected animals on a farm within five miles (8km) of an infected farm must put them to sleep themselves.
Flemming Kure Marker of the DVFA said on Monday: ‘We are moving forward, we are getting it done.’
No figures on how many animals have already been killed have yet been given.
Denmark is among the largest mink exporters in the world and produces an estimate 17 million furs per year.
It comes after thousands of mink died on Utah fur farms earlier this month.
Covid-19 first appeared among Utah mink in August, shortly after farm workers contracted the virus, state veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor said.
At least 8,000 mink died of coronavirus in the a ten-day window starting in late September.
It was likely transferred from workers to the animals but Taylor say there are no signs that the minks have infected any humans.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 50 animals in the U.S. had tested positive for Covid-19 as of September 2.
But mink appear to be particularly susceptible to the coronavirus because of a protein in their lungs – the ACE2 receptor – which binds to the virus. Humans also have the same protein in their lungs.
According to Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, the presence of this protein appears to predict the vulnerability of a species to the virus.
Mink were first found to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, in April after outbreaks at farms in the Netherlands. Further outbreaks at farms in Denmark and Spain followed.
Scientists are still digging into how the Danish minks got infected and if they can spread it to people.
Some may have gotten the virus from infected workers. Dutch authorities say some farm workers later caught the virus back from the minks.
In August, the Netherlands brought forward the mandatory end of mink farming by three years to 2021 amid a growing number of coronavirus infections at fur farms.
In Poland, another large mink fur exporter, the ruling right-wing coalition and the opposition are deeply divided over a new law that would ban fur farms. Opponents say the law will destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of fur farmers.