Denmark’s agriculture minister resigned Wednesday amid falling trust in government, after conceding the lack of a legal basis for a questionable order earlier in the month to kill the country’s entire population of more than 15 million farmed minks to contain a coronavirus mutation. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen faced calls from the opposition to do the same.

“I no longer have the sufficient support among a majority of the parliamentary parties,” Agriculture Minister Mogens Jensen said in a resignation statement.

Two weeks ago, Frederiksen announced that the government would require farmers to put down all of the country’s minks, a major source of profit for Denmark’s large fur industry. The mammals, whose soft, warm pelts are sold as high-end cold-weather attire, were connected to the spread of a mutated form of the coronavirus, which caused infected humans to produce fewer antibodies, sparking concern among health experts about the effectiveness of a future vaccine in fighting the strain.

Frederiksen said it was a “heavy decision” but that the situation required “resolute action.” The military was dispatched to dig mass graves.

But less than a week later, with an estimated 2.85 million minks already dead, according to the BBC, the prime minister halted the order, conceding the government did not have the authority to carry out the mass killing of the animals.

The mix-up spiraled into a major debacle for the government, as political opponents seized on the order to warn of a threat to Danish democracy, and farmers expressed fury over their livelihoods being taken from them overnight.

Center-right Liberal party chairman Jakob Ellemann-Jensen told TV2 on Nov. 10 that the government was “gambling with Danish democracy.”

After days of legislative gridlock, the government announced Tuesday it had a parliamentary majority backing a law to cull the minks and suspend mink farming through 2021, opening a door for the cull to proceed after all and leaving many in the trade devastated. A vote to solidify the plan has not yet been held.

“They can’t just pull the plug and let me deal with the consequences,” mink farmer Frank Andersen told Reuters. “I won’t be able to start over; everything is ruined.”

Government trust, meanwhile, has shrunk from 75 percent in July to 50 percent in mid-November, according to a study by Aarhus University.

Some experts say the mass slaughter may be premature. But Tyra Grove Krause, an official at Denmark’s infectious diseases agency, told the Associated Press that “instead of waiting for evidence, it is better to act quickly.”

The strain spread to at least 12 people in August and September.

Denmark, one of the world’s largest fur producers, is not the only country to report coronavirus outbreaks on mink farms. The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden have also reported cases linked to the farms, prompting the cull of thousands of minks.