The bear was first spotted by Jamal Lutfi Friday afternoon resting in a tree across the street from an entrance ramp to the East-West Expressway, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported.
Lutfi alerted police, as well as warned people on the street.
"I just wanted to make sure he didn't hurt anybody," said Lutfi. "A lot of children are playing in the neighborhood."
As news of the bear sighting spread, about 50 people gathered in a gas station parking lot to take pictures of the animal.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer arrived, prepared a net and padding and then shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart and waited for it to drop out of the tree.
As officials examined the bear, onlookers posed for photos with it.
"This is the best possible way we can educate people," said Joy Hill, a commission spokeswoman, comparing the experience to manatee viewing. "Next time they see one, hopefully they will not be terrified. They'll know what to do."
Hill said as urban areas grow, bears' natural habitat decreases and there are more bear sightings in cities.