HALIFAX -- While the search for a missing toddler has been suspended in Truro, N.S., police say the investigation into his disappearance is ongoing, and they are using an “innovative technique” as they continue to search for clues.

A mannequin was deployed into Lepper Brook, near where Dylan Ehler was last seen, on Wednesday -- exactly a week after the toddler was reported missing.

The mannequin has been made to match the weight and height of the three-year-old boy and is wearing similar clothing. It has also been equipped with radio transmitters.

The provincial dive team and Colchester Ground Search and Rescue are assisting police. They spent much of Wednesday planning for the launch and on Wednesday evening, they put it into the waterway where searchers had been focusing their recovery efforts.

Police say the mannequin will be tracked overhead by a helicopter and reporting stations have been set up along the Salmon River to capture the signal. The provincial dive team will also be stationed in the Salmon River.

“As the mannequin floats, the idea is that it will give a position to the receivers and it will be able to help us map and chart a possible area to search again,” Truro Police Chief Dave MacNeil told CTV news.

The stop logs have been pulled out of the reservoir on Lepper Brook, which feeds into the Salmon River, to simulate the conditions of the day Dylan disappeared.

Mannequin deployed

Police say Wednesday’s tides are similar to the tides on May 6, making for ideal conditions to try the new technique.

“We’re prepared to try anything to locate Dylan, and this is not an exact science by any stretch, but it’s something that we’re willing to try,” said MacNeil.

Police are asking residents not to call 911 to report anything suspicious in the Salmon River during the operation.

Police are also asking residents not to conduct their own searches for the boy. They are aware of an online group inviting people to search for Dylan this weekend, but say they don’t support the idea.

“We understand that people are trying to be helpful, but there is great risk to untrained people conducting these types of searches as Ground Search and Rescue and the Fire Service are equipped with the proper equipment and training," said the Truro Police Service in a statement.

They noted that properties along the river are privately-owned and accessing them without permission would be considered trespassing.

Police are also reminding residents that COVID-19 restrictions related to physical distancing and social gatherings remain in effect and will be enforced.

Dylan Ehler

Active search for missing toddler suspended

After consulting with Ground Search and Rescue, police say the search for the missing boy has “been exhausted."

As a result, the active search for Dylan has been suspended, but his disappearance is still under investigation as a missing persons case.

Police say they are aware of online speculation about Dylan’s disappearance, but foul play is not suspected at this time.

“I can guarantee you that we’ve been following up on leads, we’ve been conducting a missing person investigation from day one, and right at this point in time there’s nothing to suggest foul play,” MacNeil told CTV News.

“That may change, it may not, but right now there’s nothing to suggest that.”

Anyone with information on Dylan’s whereabouts is asked to call Truro Police at 902-895-5351.

DNR helicopter

Boy disappeared from yard last week

Police said last week that Dylan had been playing in his grandmother’s yard on Elizabeth Street the afternoon of May 6.

Police said the woman became distracted by the family’s dog and, when she turned back around, the boy was gone.

Dylan was reported missing around 1:20 p.m. and police launched an extensive search for the boy that afternoon.

Salmon River

Recovery operation focused on waterways

Early on, police canvassed the neighbourhood and scoured the area.

The focus of the search shifted to Lepper Brook, located near the grandmother’s home, after crews found the little boy’s boots in the brook the evening of May 6.

Crews continued to scour the ground and waterways, including the brook and Salmon River, on May 7. However, that evening, police confirmed that the search for Dylan had shifted to a recovery operation.

The search continued from Friday to Monday, with crews continuing to focus much of their efforts on the brook, the river, and expanding the search into Cobequid Bay.

Police also returned to the Elizabeth Street area and re-canvassed the neighbourhood.

However, police said their efforts have failed to produce any new information on the boy’s whereabouts.

The six-day search included support from local police, a K9 unit, the Truro Fire Service, Ground Search and Rescue teams from Colchester County and Halifax, a Department of Natural Resources helicopter, as well as a dive team.