Dead mink have begun rising from their graves after they were killed and buried as part of a coronavirus cull in Denmark.
Mink bodies have been spotted emerging from shallow pits where they were buried after the decomposing remains filled with gas, forcing them to the surface.
Police in West Jutland, a region of Denmark where millions of mink were culled, have rushed to re-bury the animals while insisting there is no infection risk.
Meanwhile Danes have taken to social media to brand the mink ‘zombies’ and joke that ‘they’ll be making movies about this soon’.
Mink that were killed and buried in huge pits during a coronavirus cull in Denmark have begun rising from the grave after gases released during decomposition caused their bodies to swell
Police said sandy soil used to bury the mink has proved too light to keep the bodies down as they swell, and that more is being added to the affected pits
Officers said the problem has occurred in some pits where the mink were buried 3ft down, and that more soil is now being added to the pits to help.
Thomas Kristensen, of the National Police, told broadcaster DR that sandy soil in West Jutland is partly responsible because it is not heavy enough to hold the mink bodies down.
‘In connection with the decay gases are formed, which causes the mink to expand a little,’ he said. ‘In that way, in the worst case, they get pushed out of the ground.’
Posting the story on social media, Nicolai Nielsen wrote: ‘Run… The zombie minks are coming.’
Stefan Bøgh-Andersen added: ‘2020, the year of the zombie mutant killer minks.’
Denmark culled up to 17million of its mink after the animals caught coronavirus from humans, the virus mutated, and was then passed back to humans.
Amid fears that the slightly-altered disease would render vaccines developed to fight the original virus useless, Denmark ordered all of its mink destroyed.
Farmers were offered payment for each animal they killed, along with a bonus if the animals were slaughtered within 10 days.
But the hastily-ordered cull has led to problems.
Earlier this month, thousands of dead mink were left strewn along a 12-mile stretch of road after spilling from the back of a truck on their way to be buried.
More mink were also found spread across a highway, with a truck driver charged with failing to secure his load.
Then, Danes living near the mass graves were warned about a smell from the bodies of decomposing mink, though were told it is not dangerous.
As mink bodies began rising from the dead on Sunday night, police were again forced to deny any danger.
While there is a small chance of catching Covid from a dead animal, police said, people should be safe unless they come into close contact with the bodies.
Denmark has culled up to 17million mink after the animals began passing a mutated form of coronavirus to humans, leading to fears it would render vaccines useless
Police say there is no risk to the public from the ‘zombie mink’ unless they come into contact with the bodies, and burial pits are being guarded to ensure that does not happen
That is because the virus will be mostly trapped within the dead animal’s fur, as opposed to be exhaled into the air by live mink.
The graves have also been fenced in and are being guarded to prevent any further infections, Kristensen added.
The cull has also prompted protests by Danish mink farmers along with legal challenges, as some say politicians had no authority to order the slaughter.
However, Danish politicians have claimed it as a success, saying the mutant strain of coronavirus has ‘likely been eradicated’ because no new infections have been detected since September 15.
Scientists believe the mutant virus jumped from fur farm workers to mink in the summer before it was passed back to humans.
As it crossed between species, a mutation occurred on its ‘spike’ protein, which it uses to enter human cells.
It was significant because the leading vaccine candidates work by targeting this protein.
When news about the new strain broke earlier this month, Britain banned non-British citizens returning from Denmark and introduced strict quarantine rules for any Brit who’d recently returned from the country.
At the time, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the mutated could have ‘grave consequences’ if it became widespread.
The Danish health ministry said in a statement today: ‘There have been no new cases of the Cluster 5 mink mutation since September 15, which has led to the Danish infectious disease authority SSI to conclude that this variant has most likely been eradicated.’