updated 12/22/2009 2:51:25 PM ET 2009-12-22T19:51:25

Dutch police shot dead four reindeer that escaped from a Christmas sleigh display, fearing they might run into traffic and cause accidents.

Three of the animals were shot and killed hours after their escape on Saturday. Animal experts tried capturing the fourth reindeer Tuesday by stunning it with tranquilizer darts, but that proved impossible, said police spokesman Dirk Neef in the northern Dutch province of Drenthe.

Owner Willem Poelman said he purchased the reindeer for a show at his small business, Poelman Donkey Park, in the city of Marum, 80 miles north of Amsterdam.

But the animals broke loose within minutes of their delivery from a supplier in Latvia.

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