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Exotic antelope escapes in R.I.; officials warn its flesh could be poisonous

It may look like a large deer, but it’s not. And it’s flesh could be deadly to anyone who tries to eat it.

That’s the word from Rhode Island officials today, who are warning hunters not to eat an exotic antelope that escaped from a private collection in the Hope Valley area.

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The state Department of Environmental Management says the nilgai antelope had escaped from a private collection in a section of Hopkinton as it was being captured for relocation to Texas.

The animal weighs about 500 pounds and resembles a large deer, the DEM said in a statement.

The animal had been shot with a dart by a veterinarian just before it escaped and the medication in the dart “could cause harm or possibly death to people if flesh from this animal is consumed,” the statement said.

State officials asked anyone who sees the animal to report it to DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement at 401-222-3070. If a hunter mistakenly shoots the animal, the hunter should report it and not eat the animal.

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