When people began logging into MDWFP.com today to apply for Mississippi’s 2013 public alligator hunting season, they received a nice surprise.

It was free.

Ricky Flynt, the alligator program director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, confirmed that the agency decided last week to ditch the $10 fee.

Flynt said he couldn’t comment on the decision and offered no reason for the change, but said the information was posted on the alligator page at mdwfp.com on May 28, and a press release sent May 30.

Applications will be accepted through June 17. The statewide season is Aug. 30-Sept. 9.

Under the original guidelines announced earlier this spring, there was to be a $10 fee per application. Applicants could apply in as many of the seven zones as desired, at $10 per zone, but could only apply once in each zone.

On Monday, when people began applying, including this writer, the system was different. Instead of a direct application per zone, applicants were directed to a list of the seven zones and told to enter as many as they wished. They were asked to rank the zones by preference, with No. 1 being the most favored and then No. 2, No. 3 and so on for as many zones as desired through No. 7.

The drawing will take place within a week after the application process and successful applicants will be contacted by e-mail at the address listed on the application. Those notified will be required to notify the agency to verify a successful application, or they will be replaced from the application pool.