WASHINGTON — Horse rescue groups or other nonprofits in Utah may benefit from $200,000 in donated funds aimed to help the Bureau of Land Management place wild horses and burros into long-term care.

The Save the Mustangs Fund, created by Ford Motor Co. in partnership with Take Pride in America and the BLM, is offering $100 for each wild horse purchased by equine rescue groups, according to an announcement by the BLM this month.

BLM Director Kathleen Clark and Michelle Cangelosi, executive director of Take Pride in America — the Interior Department's volunteer program — sent letters to 300 nonprofit wild horse and equine rescue organizations, including the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, and Wasatch Humane in Bountiful.

"We urgently need your help in finding good homes for older wild horses," Clark and Cangelosi wrote. "Although the BLM is managing the Wild Horse and Burro Program with a continued emphasis on adoption, we are making a concerted effort to work with our partners, organizations and interested individuals who are willing and able to provide long-term care for the animals that must be sold."

A law approved in late 2004 requires the BLM to sell wild horses that are 11 years and older, and it has since sold 1,700 horses and burros with more than 8,000 eligible for sale. This is different from the bureau's wild horse and burro adoption program.

Any nonprofit group that wants to purchase a horse can get financial assistance from the Save the Mustangs fund to help provide for the horses' long-term care. To qualify, groups must verify their nonprofit status, show that they have the capability to care for purchased horses and demonstrate to the satisfaction of the BLM and Take Pride in America that they will provide for the long-term care of the animals, according to the agency.

Utah right now only has about 30 animals eligible for sale, said Gus Warr, the state's lead on wild horses and burros at the BLM, and about 400 up for adoption. The state has 2,562 free-roaming wild horse and burros on BLM property, based on the latest numbers available from the BLM. Warr said the bureau will start gathering horses in July to bring that number down to about 2,000.

Horses gathered at that time may qualify for either the sale or adoption program.

E-mail: suzanne@desnews.com