By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - The FBI has been asked to help in the disappearance of a two-year-old boy who vanished without a trace earlier this month during a family camping trip in the central Idaho mountains, the local sheriff said on Friday.
DeOrr Kunz was reported missing by his parents on July 10 after they returned from a hike to learn that their son was not with a relative who had remained at the campsite, Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman said.
For three weeks, crews on foot, horseback and all-terrain vehicles, as well as drones and aircraft using special sensing devices, scoured the remote backcountry about 50 miles southeast of the ranching community of Salmon.
Bowerman said on Friday he has asked the FBI for assistance in a case that has stretched the resources of his small local law enforcement agency, which is responsible for a county that sprawls across nearly 4,600 square miles of sagebrush flats, forested peaks and river valleys.
The child's parents, DeOrr Kunz Sr. and Jessica Mitchell, told authorities they left their home in Idaho Falls on July 10 for a weekend camping trip that included their son, as well as the mother's grandfather and his friend.
They told investigators they thought their son had stayed at the camp when they left to hike. They said they realized he was missing when they came back and learned his great-grandfather did not know the boy's whereabouts, Bowerman said.
Hundreds of tips have poured in from all over the globe suggesting the child has been seen as far away as Hong Kong, but Bowerman said he is ruling out a kidnapping.
"There is no evidence suggesting DeOrr was abducted," the sheriff said.
Bowerman said search dogs had shown an interest earlier this month in a reservoir, but that it was later learned a local woman scattered the ashes of a cremated loved one into the water, misleading the cadaver dogs.
There is also no sign the toddler was attacked by the bears, mountain lions and wolves known to roam the area, he said.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)