A polar bear was filmed chasing reindeer leaving experts speculating on how the predator is being forced to adapt its diet due to climate change.

The dramatic footage was captured in Norway's Svalbard archipelago in August - in the summertime when the sea ice retreats along with the seals, which are the polar bear's main source of food.

A research team from a nearby Polish scientific station captured on video a young female polar bear hunting a male reindeer by chasing it into the water, catching and drowning it before eating it , France24 reports.

Izabela Kulaszewicz, a biologist at the University of Gdansk, witnessed the astonishing scene and found it so unusual that she co-wrote Polar Biology with two other researchers.

This female polar bear was captured feeding on the carcass of a reindeer on the Svalbard archipelago, Norway in August (

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

The researchers argued that what they saw suggests polar bears are increasingly preying on land animals to make up for their limited access to seals.

They also say there are indications the predator has been hunting reindeer more often in recent decades.

The authors say it comes down to two factors: the retreating sea ice is keeping polar bears on land for longer periods and the reindeer population on Svalbard has been increasing since the 1925 hunting ban.

Scientists captured the moment a polar bear chased a reindeer into the water, drags it ashore and devours it (

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

They suggest that eating reindeer has been a matter of necessity and opportunity.

Svalbard, which is just over 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole, has some 300 sedentary bears living alongside 20,000 reindeer.

Other experts have cautioned looking into what happened too much.

Andrew Derocher, a professor at the University of Alberta said: "If polar bears were killing reindeer back in the 1950s and 60s, it would have been very rare to have been seen, as there were few people, few bears, and few reindeer".

In Svalbard, there are signs that warn of the danger of polar bears (

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

"Now, with modern media, everyone has a camera, social media and the 'news' spreads fast."

Polar bears typically eat seals but have also even been known to eat eggs, birds, rodents and dolphins.

Reindeer would be a good source of food during the summer period, which now lasts longer because of global warming, experts say.

Two days after the Polish researchers filmed their video, the same polar bear was seen eating another reindeer carcass.

Norwegian expert Jon Aars, a co-author of the article, said: "Reindeer can be important, at least for some polar bears when they have to stay on land for extended periods."

Read More

Read More