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A large California black bear was spotted in a Pasadena neighborhood Thursday afternoon, sparking concerns about a threat to residents. After nightfall, authorities ended their search for the animal, which residents say visits the community often. Kim Baldonado reports from Pasadena for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014.
The setting sun ended an hours-long search for a bear spotted romping through a residential neighborhood in Pasadena Thursday.
The seemingly docile bruin was wandering through backyards -- with animal control officers in tow -- near Old House Road and Sierra Madre Villa Avenue (map).
Photos: See More SoCal Bear Sightings
It was last seen heading toward "suitable or natural habitat," according to a warden with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who said the "advantage is on the bear's side" now that the sun has set.
Warden Jason Healy said the search would be called off and the scene broken down because the black bear had not reached the level where it's a public safety issue.
"These bears are pretty savvy," Healy said. "They know which direction they need to head so he was headed in the right direction. He'll probably either hunker down for the night or make his way back into the forest."
California's black bear population is at about 25,000 to 30,000, with most living in mountain areas above 3,000 feet, according to what the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife calls conservative estimates. In 1982, the statewide bear population was estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.
Less than 10 percent of the state's black bear population lives in the central western and southwestern California region, according to agency estimates. About half of the population resides in an area north and west of the Sierra Nevada.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife has recorded 12 "bear attacks" since 1980. An attack is defined as "physical contact, injury or death."
The last reported attack in Los Angeles County occurred in July 2003 when a hiker was knocked down by a bear at a campsite on Pacific Crest Trail in Angeles National Forest. The hiker suffered minor injuries.