Teenager Subject of Large Search After Getting Lost on Trail Slept in a Cave, Ate Berries: 'All That Wilderness Training Paid Off'

A teenage boy slept in a cave and ate berries to survive after he got lost in an Ontario park, sparking a large police search operation.

Zachary Harding, 13, was found safe on Thursday morning after he got lost in Harrison Park near the city of Owen Sound, The Owen Sound Sun Times first reported.

Local police declared the teenager missing on Wednesday night and managed to reunite him with his parents less than 24 hours later thanks to a tip off from a member of the public.

Authorities searched overnight for the boy, who was last seen in a playground on Wednesday afternoon before his disappearance.

After being reunited with his son, the boy's father Ralph Harding told the Owen Sound Sun Times and other reporters: "[He] spent the night in a cave, ate berries. So all that wilderness training paid off and the Owen Sound police just found him."

He later told the local news outlet that the police operation had been "amazing," adding that his son had got lost after going up a trail after he "missed the meeting point with his grandpa."

In a media release posted on social media yesterday by the Owen Sound Police Service, the force said: "Thanks to a tip from a member of the public, 13-year-old Zachary Harding has been located.

"The Owen Sound Police Service would like to thank the Ontario Provincial Police, our Auxillary Unit, the volunteers, members of the public and the media who assisted us in locating Zachary this morning."

Owen Sound Police service added that the boy was in "good health" and had been reunited with family.

The force posted a public alert after 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday asking the public to look out for the then-missing teenager but not enter the "bush area" that officers were searching overnight.

Its Wednesday alert also noted that the 13-year-old was lost outside all night with little more than a short sleeve shirt and jeans to keep him warm.

His father said that temperatures fell as low as six degrees overnight.

While Zachary was rescued this week, Canadian missing children statistics paint a bleaker picture.

The Missing Children Society of Canada said that figures from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police service showed there were 42,233 reports of missing children in the country last year.

But Canadian government data also shows that almost two thirds of missing children and youth reports were removed within a day of being posted while 92 percent were taken down inside a week.