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The wood bison is a cousin, if you will, to the better-known plains bison—both are subspecies of the American bison—and their scientific names seem straight out of a Belushi-era Saturday Night Live skit: the wood bison’s Bison bison athabascae to the plains bison’s Bison bison bison. (Bison are not buffalo.)
“In the United States…wood bison have been gone for somewhere around…we don’t really know, but let’s call it a couple of centuries,” says Tom Seaton, a wood bison biologist (and all-around ungulate guy) for theAlaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). “Now is our chance to correct that and put them back where they were. Most of the really amazing and grand wildlife recovery adventures have already played out. This is really the last one.”