`Oh, give me a home ...'

April 28, 2005

WHEN BALTIMORE County Detective Ed Spragg came into work yesterday morning, his computer had already been set to display the photo - the one in which he's lying on his back on a tennis court with a 700-pound bison looming over him. "Twenty-five years on the force, and this is what I'll be remembered for," he said, unharmed in the encounter but quickly up to his neck in ribbing.

Actually, it was nice to see Baltimore make the front pages worldwide for something other than homicides, drugs or other urban ills. But of course, Tuesday's Baltimore bison break-out had it all: Herding by helicopter, bison jumping over a tennis net (Who knew?), an impromptu corral of lawn chairs, and, in the end, a condo association facing some challenging cleanup issues.

The nine bison, their 15 minutes of fame over and now facing a one-way trip to the slaughterhouse, were safely penned at their Greenspring Valley farm yesterday, said owner Gerald "Buzz" Berg. He's been raising them for 10 years for meat, one of many contributors to the national resurrection of the bison. "I just did this for a lark," he said.

That might not be the precise word chosen by Detective Spragg and his fellow cowboys who, seriously, should be credited for keeping the bison off the Beltway. But then again, the beasts' half-day lark on an otherwise mundane Tuesday was a reminder that the unexpected is always just around the corral.

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