Foxes and humans at the Late Holocene Uyak site, Kodiak, Alaska

Catherine F. West, Reuven Yeshurun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a generalist, omnivorous predator that is often drawn to human environments, exploiting anthropogenic refuse. Foxes may have had little or significant economic importance for prehistoric human foragers, depending on the environmental, economic, and cultural context. Here we investigate human-fox interaction at the Late Holocene Uyak site (KOD-145) on Kodiak Island, Alaska. We apply zooarchaeological, taphonomic, and stable isotope analyses to the fox remains and find that complete animals were processed for meat and pelts and then discarded. Stable isotope results support foxes as omnivores eating in both the terrestrial and marine environments, and a comparison of archaeological and modern foxes show more dietary variability in ancient foxes. Together, these data suggest that the Uyak foxes were drawn to the village as a stable source of food subsidies, eating discarded marine and terrestrial resources, and consequently were embedded in human subsistence as sources of meat and raw materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalArctic Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank M. Zeder and T. Rick for their great help in the course of this research and for facilitating our access to the collections, C. France for providing access to the Smithsonian Institution’s Stable Isotope Lab, and to C. Hofman for analytical support. A. Edmondson assisted with the osteometric data collection. We thank A. Steffian and the staff at the Alutiiq Museum for their guidance, and the people of Larsen Bay, Alaska for their continued support of archaeology. Thanks to the Pingree Family of Quartz Creek Lodge and L. VanDaele for providing the modern samples. This research was supported by the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Fellowships funding for CFW and the National Museum of Natural History’s Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellowship to RY.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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