Top predators are disappearing worldwide, significantly changing ecosystems that depend on top-down regulation. Conflict with humans remains the primary roadblock for large carnivore conservation, but for the eastern wolf (
Canis lycaon), disagreement over its evolutionary origins presents a significant barrier to conservation in Canada and has impeded protection for grey wolves ( Canis lupus) in the USA. Here, we use 127 235 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified from restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq) of wolves and coyotes, in combination with genomic simulations, to test hypotheses of hybrid origins of Canistypes in eastern North America. A principal components analysis revealed no evidence to support eastern wolves, or any other Canistype, as the product of grey wolf × western coyote hybridization. In contrast, simulations that included eastern wolves as a distinct taxon clarified the hybrid origins of Great Lakes-boreal wolves and eastern coyotes. Our results support the eastern wolf as a distinct genomic cluster in North America and help resolve hybrid origins of Great Lakes wolves and eastern coyotes. The data provide timely information that will shed new light on the debate over wolf conservation in eastern North America.