Foxes and Humans at the Late Holocene Uyak Site, Kodiak, Alaska

Catherine F. West and Reuven Yeshurun

Abstract

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.

  • Both authors contributed equally to this work.

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