Here's a recipe for low comedy, Montgomery County-style: Take one half-ton bull buffalo, let the beast roam around 250 square miles of rural countryside for two weeks and then -- just as he's savoring the sweet taste of freedom -- try to capture him.
Despite the best-laid plans of county police and state wildlife officials, a creature known officially as an American plains bison and popularly as a buffalo was still at large last night, somewhere in the vicinity of Poolesville.
No one is certain which range the buffalo calls home. Nor has anyone come forward to claim the horned mammal, although one generous couple in Potomac have volunteered a neighbor's polo ponies to help corner him.
Since first being sighted two weeks ago, the buffalo has been chased variously by police officers, a group of local outdoorsmen, one veterinarian and a naturalist who works for the state government.
For his trouble, the buffalo -- who officials say poses no real danger to people or property -- has received at least two tranquilizing darts in the rump. The first dart, fired from a rifle on Nov. 17, contained a measly three cubic centimeters of tranquilizer and made the buffalo drowsy, according to Janet McKegg, who works for Maryland's Natural Resources Department. A second, more powerful dose prompted the animal to run off into the woods.
"I'm kind of concerned about him," McKegg said yesterday, five days after the last official sighting. "It's deer season now and . . . I hope somebody doesn't take a pot shot at him."
A gunshot wound probably would enrage the buffalo and make him dangerous, experts said. Montgomery police Lt. Mason W. Gray said there were no plans to destroy the animal "as long as it doesn't harm anyone."
"It's no big deal," Gray said. "He's kinda running loose, that's all."